Flan -- A Spanish Delight

July 1 is the feast of Blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary, so well known for evangelizing in California and Mexico. He battled cold, hunger, and illness, as well as those who would challenge him in the battle for souls. You can find a simple biography of him here.

Celebrate his feast day with a sweet Spanish treat -- Flan (pronounced flahn), a sweet custard dish with a caramel base.
This dessert is a little intimidating the first time you try it, but once you've done it one time, it's a breeze to put together. The final result, however, is a big "wow." Not only the presentation, but the taste. The "burned" sugar really flavors this dish and it's such a unique flavor. I make individual flans, because I have some lovely ramekins, and the kids like "their own." But, it is just as good made as a big flan, just use a shallow ceramic or glass dish. Start far enough ahead that the Flan can chill completely before serving.

This is a delightful dish that can be served for any Spanish feast day.

The Joy of Cooking

3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
5 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
3 c. whole or low-fat milk
3/4 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place 3/4 c. sugar in a small, heavy saucepan. Drizzle water evenly over the top. Place the pan over medium heat and, without stirring, very gently swirl the pan until a clear syrup forms. It is important that the syrup clarify before it boils, so move the pan off and back on the heat if necessary. After the sugar dissolves, raise the heat to high and bring the syrup to a rolling boil; cover the pan tightly and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook the syrup until it begins to darken. Gently swirl the pan by the handle and cook the syrup until it turns a deep amber. Quickly pour the syrup (be careful -- it will blister you if you touch it) into eight 6-oz. ramekins or custard cups or a 2 to 2-1/2 cup dish. Using a potholder, immediately tilt the dish(es) to coat the bottom.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and salt, just until blended. Heat the milk just until steaming and gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture. Stir gently until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Pour egg mixture into ramekins or dish. Place in a large baking dish or roaster and place in the oven. Pour hot water into the pan, carefully avoiding the flan dish(es), about halfway up the sides of the cups or dish. Bake 40 to 60 minutes for individual cups and 60 to 90 minutes for a large dish. They should be firmly set in the center.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. To unmold, run a knife around the edges and flip onto a plate (it helps if you put the plate upside down directly on top of the dish -- especially if you made a large flan). If necessary (for really stubborn ones) dip the bottom of the dish briefly into hot water.

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  2. I have been making this for, oh, at least 25 yrs now! It's easy to make and so good! Thanks for reminding me!