A & E

Cooking with Miguel: Fire, Flan and Friendship!

Flan is a dessert dish made for family gatherings, birthdays and get togethers. Many people think of flan as a Spanish dessert, but when we did research we learned that flan was originally a dish from the Roman empire.     

It is made with common ingredients and you might even have all of them in your cupboard. Of course before recommending a recipe we had to try it first.  

Testing this recipe was a new experience for me and I was extremely scared of how it would turn out. Cooking with blindness is always an adventure. I did not know a lot about flan and honestly I was not a big fan. But it turned out very well.

Not only did I like making this, but it gave me a great sense of happiness and joy. I enjoyed the entire process. Even with all the shenanigans that happened, it was a fun adventure. We were worried that it would not turn out well, but it did. It turned out very well.

This recipe wasn’t too sweet or overpowering, like other flans I have tasted, but it was still pretty rich. It was not a light dessert. It was in the middle.    

This experience changed my perspective on flan. I like it more now. You could say I am a f(l)an.

We started about 3 p.m. and did not finish until 6:30 p.m. The recipe said it should take less time, but we had a few minor setbacks that made the process take longer.

You will need:

2/3 cups of White Sugar

1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk

2 cups heavy cream (we used heavy whipping cream)

1 cup milk

5 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

This recipe might look easy because it has only six ingredients, but caramelizing the sugar was one of the most difficult parts of the whole situation. We had to try it three different times until we got it right and I burnt my finger. It felt like it was on fire. So be careful, do not do that.

The directions:

  1. While gathering your ingredients preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
  2. Caramelizing the sugar:

In a small nonstick saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat. Shake and swirl occasionally to distribute sugar until it is dissolved and begins to brown. Lift the pan over the heat source (four to six inches) and continue to brown the sugar until it becomes a dark golden brown. You may slightly stir while cooking, but continue stirring to cause the sugar to crystallize. Pour caramelized sugar into a one and a half quart casserole dish or a large loaf pan, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.

My experience:

Miguel preparing sugar portions for caramelizing, fun fact_ this took three tries. (Dylan Turk/The Indy)
Miguel preparing sugar portions for caramelizing, fun fact_ this took three tries. (Dylan Turk/The Indy)

 

I did not add enough sugar the first time, so it became hard instead of making a sauce. I also had issues when adding the sugar into the pan. It would stick like taffy to the pan and was hard to pour out. We ended up winging it. The third time was the charm.

The next step was making the custard, but for us it was putting out a fire.

We had a little mishap. Someone had left a plastic cutting board on the stove and it started to melt. Thankfully D. Turk, my sighted cooking partner, noticed it just as it was starting to catch fire. There was a smell of burnt plastic and the cutting board was ruined. Thankfully it was not that bad. It could have gotten out of hand.

The directions:

  1. In a blender, combine sweetened condensed milk, cream, milk, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for one minute. Pour over the caramelized sugar.

My experience:

Making the custard sounded like it would be easy, but I had some trouble and my helper D.Turk had to assist.

I have to measure by feeling with my hands and I had trouble getting it right. Then the condensed milk spilled when I opened the can and made a sticky mess. Turk also had to help me with my aim to get the liquid ingredients into the blender.

The directions:

  1. Place the filled casserole dish into a larger pan and add one inch of HOT water to the outer pan. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until set.

My experience:

It seemed like it took a long time to cook in the oven. We checked it two times and ended up taking it out a bit early.  Even though we took it out early, it was still cooked through.

Miguel mixing the sugar before caramelizing it (Dylan Turk/The Indy)
Miguel mixing the sugar before caramelizing it (Dylan Turk/The Indy)

 

The process took a long time, but it turned out well.

Of course we had to taste it ASAP.

I liked the flavor. I could taste the condensed milk and vanilla.

It was soft and warm. We thought it could be good cold, with vanilla ice cream. Or with whipped cream, because of its lightness.

The advice I would give to anyone trying this recipe: do not burn down your house.

Do not be afraid if your sugar caramelizes and burns, it may take a few tries. Try and try again.

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