At any rate, Benny doesn’t cook much but if there’s one dish I’ve heard him talk about ad nauseum it’s flan. Like, seriously. Flan. Favorite dish? Flan. Dessert? Flan. Food related talk? Flan. Puerto Rican food? Oh hells-to-the Flan.
I decided to surprise him by making him flan for his birthday. I mean, I’m Cuban, so if course it’ll be good right? Unfortch, the last time I tried to make candied nuts I ended up burning my foot with sugar (not a really pleasant thing, evidently sugar burns are one of the worst you can get). But I remained hopeful that I wouldn’t fuck this dish up royally so I could say “Hah, my flan is awesome, and I’ve never even made it before!”. Sometimes I think ego is 90% of what makes my cooking turn out decently, since I have no idea how else it would. If you’re convinced it will come out fabulously, what other choice does the dish have? It has to come out well.
So, with cockiness at hand (mind?) I put about a cup of sugar in this metal pan and put it directly over the stove on medium/medium-low heat and didn’t touch a damn thing. Albany John was in the background going “Be really careful and make sure you don’t burn yourself again. I don’t want to have to go to the hospital.”
HOLY SHIT! It’s actually melting! See the left-ish side? Where it’s browning? Carmelization! I was super excited at this point. The most I did was move the pan around to melt evenly on the stove top. I didn’t stir the sugar at all so it would stay smooth and viscous and not re-harden (which is what happens when you stir sugar for some reason).
TA FREAKING DA! Melted sugar!! I swirled the caramel around the sides of the pan and then left it to cool in the windowsill. I almost burned myself a couple of times while swirling the pan, but thankfully they were all near misses. Albany John’s eye rolling was in fine form that night though. “Oops!” *glare* “Whoops, never mind! I’m okay!” *eye roll and sigh*
My evening was a hair busy that night so I didn’t snap any more photos. It just means I’ll have to do it again! Ohnoes.
But after letting my pan of caramel cool off and harden I whipped up a simple Flan Filling of:
6 whole eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 t vanilla
Poured it all in the pan, set the pan in a water bath (or a bano de maria / bain marie) and cooked it in a 350 F oven for about 40-50 minutes until the center had solidified. Then I let it cool off in the window until Albany John, Ellsbells, Slick and I headed over to my bro’s for Benny’s birthday.
I think Benny thought I had just baked him a cake (I’ve seemingly become the birthday dessert baker for my family), and thankfully he didn’t hear Slick go “Yeah, we brought you flan,” as we were walking inside (followed by me whapping Slick and going “Shhh!! It’s a SECRET!” in a loud whisper).
When it came closer to cake time I went in the kitchen to unwrap and plate the flan (I was also concerned that I would F this step up as well, which would really suck since it was looking alright). Benny also happened to be there and as I was taking off the tin foil he goes, “So what did you make for m… OH MY GOD! IT’S FLAN! IT’S FLAN! YOU MADE ME FLAN! I HAVE FLAN FOR MY BIRTHDAY! FLAN!” and what I cannot completely describe is this cute little hop-skip dance he did while saying it. I wish someone had been recording that.
The plating was successful, we all sang him Happy Birthday, and then Margarita and I sliced and plated the flan for everyone. Margarita and I had only ever had the Goya instant flan, to which we said “Oh man, this stuff is good. That Goya version is processed crap.” (Before we both thought we didn’t like flan) All I know is I’ll be making flan again. Soon.
Later on we went out for drinks at Lark Tavern and Bomber’s.