Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cream Cheese Flan

When we lived in Hattiesburg, we sometimes hung out with a couple from New Jersey, Bill and Luis. Luis teaches in the English department, and they have a beautiful house that they decorate to the nines, especially at Christmas. But in our minds, Luis, who is of Cuban origin, will always be associated with flan.

Luis would make flan for every get-together we attended, and there was never any left. He even made pumpkin flan for Thanksgiving, which was much more popular than the standard pumpkin pie. His flan was and is the standard by which to measure all flan.

So I was pretty excited to try this recipe, billed as a Cuban flan. Maybe I could recreate Luis's recipe in my own kitchen!

Um, no. But I blame myself, not the recipe. I didn't have the soufflé pan the recipe called for, and so I used a pie plate. I think that led to my having overcooked the flan, leading to it being more grainy than smooth and delicious. Mind you, it wasn't terrible and got eaten, especially served with a "red fruit" sauce, but this was not the flan of my dreams. I guess we'll have to invite Bill and Luis to visit us here.

Here's the recipe. Be careful with the temperature, and you may have more luck than I did.

Cream Cheese Flan

3/4 c. (5.25 oz.) sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs plus 6 egg yolks
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 13-oz. can evaporated milk
Pinch salt
1 t. vanilla
Grated zest of a lime
Juice of same lime

Heat the oven to 350. Get out a 2-quart soufflé dish and a larger, shallow pan that the soufflé dish can rest in. Heat up a kettle of water.
Put the sugar in a wide skillet over medium-high heat and stir until it starts to melt (it'll clump up; don't worry). Turn down the heat and keep stirring until the sugar is golden brown and smooth. Pour the caramel into the soufflé pan. Let cool a bit (the caramel will likely crack a bit, but no big deal). Butter the sides of the pan.
In a medium bowl, preferably one with a spout, beat the cream cheese until soft. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the yolks in several additions (2 at a time, say). Gradually beat in the condensed milk. Beat the mixture while you add the evaporated milk, vanilla, and lime zest and juice. Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish. Put the dish in the larger pan and put both in the oven. Pour hot water into the larger dish until it comes about an inch up the side of the soufflé pan. Cover the soufflé dish with a cookie sheet. Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until a small, sharp knife comes out clean. You could also take the custard's temperature--175 is good.
Remove the flan from the pan with the water--careful! Let cool to room temperature, and then chill for 6-8 hours at least. Unmold at the last minute so that the caramel looks good.

If you want, serve with this sauce:

1 bag frozen raspberries (or mixed berries)
3 T. sugar

Mix the frozen berries with the sugar and let thaw. When it's thawed but still pretty cool, mash up the berries just a bit. Taste to see if the sauce is sweet enough.

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