Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flan Fascination

After more than 300 years of Spanish colonization, many Spanish influences are permanently embedded in the  Philippine culture. Roman Catholic which is now the major religion in the country  is  a big and a very significant contribution of the Spaniards to the Filipinos.  Also, Spanish language  have played an important rule to our own developing language then . Our adaption to this language is still vivid until today. Now, back home, despite of using  English and Filipino as the major spoken languages in schools, trades, law and government,  words of Spanish origin are  still visible or should I say audible? For example, even those who weren't taught Spanish can at  least  count in this language.  Here's the catch,  hearing  your parents count in Spanish is not a good sign. Never! As a little girl, I learned it fast enough. By ''Uno''  you should get all alert, by ''Dos'' run for it and what ever happens, never ever let the counting reaches ''Tres'' . It always comes with a sored bottom. Also when temper flares and tongue lashes , even the most native  of Indios back home still curses in Espanyol! . Lets keep this child friendly and shall refrain from giving some samples..

And then there's the food. Many Filipino dishes have Spanish influences to it too.  Well, we can't just simply say ''Gracias, Senyor'' and not have some of those chorizos now can we?! Some natives readily embraced Spanish dishes and using their own local resources  even made their own version. There is a long list of Spanish influenced dishes which are  very common  and familiar to  Filipino tables and tongues .  However, today let us tackle the fascinating Flan. This is one dish very common in Spain, Mexico and some parts of Latin America. I bet the entire planet knows about it as well. The French made it, the Spaniards had it so naturally  Filipinos must try it too. We call it Leche Flan from la Leche in Spanish, meaning milk  .Our forefathers must have liked it as we do since recipes were handed down from generations to generations.  Every household has their own secret recipe, some even using carabao milk and duck eggs . Since the nearest carabao is about 9000 kilometers away from us and finding duck eggs in the groceries is as common  as finding a carabao in our doorstep, I end up using some non-exotic ingredients.  After few experiments and countless blisters, I finally found a recipe that suited my taste best. Here is my version.

Vanilla Flan a la Emily

Heat 1 cup of water sugar under medium heat and add few tbsp of water until it turns   golden caramel. Don't let it brown too much as it will be  bitter . Once sugar is caramelized, carefully pour it into your prepared baking dish tilting it if necessary to cover the bottom. I have enough ramekins so I used it. I like to serve my  flan individually.

Heat 200 ml of cream , 600 ml of fresh milk , 1 tube ( 170 g) of sweetened condense milk under low heat whisking constantly. If you want it sweeter, you can add a tbsp or two of white sugar.  Let it boil once and add in 1 vanilla pod, spit with seed scraped out.  Add vanilla seeds and the vanilla pod into the milk mixture. Let it simmer for 3 minutes and take out from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together 6 egg yolks and 1 whole egg ( if you are conscious of your cholesterol level go boil yourself some sweet potato). Tamper the egg before putting into the milk mixture. Tampering the egg is necessary to avoid it from curdling. To do that, add  about a tablespoon of hot milk mixture into the egg while whisking vigorously. I keep on putting hot liquid one tablespoon after the other until the egg mixture turned light yellow and a bit thick and custardy.

Put the pan back into the stove and turn to low . We don't want our eggs to cook too soon. Next pour the egg mixture into the warm milk mixture.Work that biceps and keep the whisk rolling! Keep whisking until the custard is thick enough to coat  the back of a spoon.

Put the custard into your prepared baking dish. Some required sieving but I don't want to loose those precious vanilla seeds so I skipped that. Less dishes too.

Place your baking dish on a bigger baking dish and pour boiling water until about half of baking dish is submerged . Bake the flan bain-Marie style ( water bath)  for about 45 minutes at 180° C or until custard is set . For those who haven't got an oven, steaming will do.Cool off completely before chilling.  To serve, run a thin knife on the edges of your baking dish and invert releasing the flan. Enjoy and move you cholesterol test  until next month.

 Soft. Silky. Sugary good!

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