Saturday, November 5, 2011
I made caramel! That's right, I made real caramel, without burning it or having it harden into a rock. I'm so proud of myself that I finally got it right, and it wasn't that hard either. This opens up new avenues for me - maybe I'll try making caramel candies sometime. This time I made caramel as the top portion of a flan and I was absolutely thrilled with how well this dessert turned out for the first time making either caramel or flan. To be honest, the dessert is made a bit like creme brulee (minus the blow torch), but for the separate caramel layer that is required. Next week, I am going to try my own recipe for a blueberry flan, but for the first time I used an established recipe I found in Bon Appetit magazine for Thanksgiving. I enjoyed reading all the great Thanksgiving recipes and decided to try this one out. Gosh, I really want to make a big turkey - but sadly we can't host Thanksgiving this year like we did last year. Oh well. But I can still make a killer pumpkin flan! This was a great Friday night dessert to top off the green apple risotto my husband made for dinner.
Pumpkin Flan (adapted from this recipe, cut in half below) - makes 6
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp orange zest (I omitted)
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
scant 1/4 tsp cardamom or one cracked cardamom pod
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 of a 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar (for the caramel)
1/6 cup heavy cream (for the caramel)
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of the heavy cream, the milk and the cloves, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom to a simmer. Slowly then whisk in the egg mixture. Allow to steep for thirty minutes. The strain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin, and if you like a half tsp of orange zest (which I omitted) and allow to chill for an hour and a half. Note: the original recipe says three hours but I found an hour and a half to be sufficient and it worked out just fine. Towards the end of the chilling period, prepare the caramel.
Heat the 1/2 cup sugar with an eighth of a cup of water in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil without stirring until the syrup is deep amber in color. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush and swirl the pan occasionally. This takes about ten minutes. The stir in the 1/6 cup heavy cream and the caramel will boil vigorously. Divide the carmel among six ramekins and allow to sit until it sets into caramel, which won't take long. Divide the custard op top of the caramel in the six ramekins.
Place remakins in a large pan and add hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the sides, just like for creme brulee. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until the center is just set. Child for about 45 minutes before inverting to serve on plates.