Do you ever have those moments when you see something become a trend and you can only think to yourself “mannnn, I’ve been doing that/making that/going there/whatever for years now. WAY before it became trendy. Then you’re torn between feeling ahead of the game and wanting to make sure everyone knows you did it first so you don’t seem like a follower. There are a ton of foods I feel like that with. It’s like “no fair! I was making that way before any of you did it!!”
Flan is one of those foods. I was making it way back in the early 80’s, long before it became trendy restaurant food. WHY was I making it? Like duhhhh man; it’s made with high fat heavy cream and this is me. Need I say more? 😛 As a variation of the “If you build it, they will come”, with me, it’s always been “add cream and I will eat it”. Hey, we all have our weak spots. Cream is
one of mine.
For years, I used a flan recipe I found in one of those old Pillsbury paperback cookbooks they sold monthly. I still do periodically when I’m feeling like a purist. But sometimes I like to change it up and make a cheesecake flan. It’s called that because you use cream cheese in it. The cream cheese contributes a silkiness you don’t get with regular flan (though the regular stuff is pretty damned amazing texture wise itself) and a subtle tang. That flavor mixed with the caramel sauce is outstanding.
Word of note- when I make flan, I do NOT do the whole invert and let the caramel run down it, yada yada yada. I want to get to eating and half the time, it droops when inverted and doesn’t look nearly as pretty as it does just spooning it out of the dish and drizzling (or in my case, pouring on by the quart) the caramel sauce on top of each serving. If you want to invert, go for it. But I promise you, no one will care if you don’t. This is smooth, creamy, just melts in your mouth. The flan itself isn’t overly sweet and the burnt sugar taste of the caramel just sets it off so well, you will find yourself eating and eating…and eating…and cursing me…and eating..and cursing more.
You know the drill….
Silky Cheesecake Flan
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 4 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups boiling water
- Take a 3 quart baking dish and place it inside of another larger (a 13×9 pan or bigger works well) and set near the stove. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pot.
- Over medium high heat, let the sugar mixture cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the color is a dark reddish brown. When it gets to that, even if there are still some sugar lumps, remove from the heat. If you keep swirling for a few seconds, the lumps will melt and even if they don’t, it’s not a big deal.
- Immediately pour the caramel into the waiting pan.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low until creamy. Add in the eggs and egg yolk and using a whisk, gently mix with the cream cheese. You’re trying to make as little foam as possible here because the air bubbles won’t dissipate and will leave unattractive pock marks all over the flan, though they obviously don’t effect the taste.
- Gently beat in the condensed milk, then the heavy cream and vanilla extract.
- Carefully pour the custard into the prepared pan. Put the pan into the oven and then carefully pour the boiling water around the baking dish with the custard in it, being careful not to splash any water into the pan. Lightly cover the pan with foil.
- Immediately turn the heat down to 325 degrees and bake the flan for 45 to 60 minutes, until just the center third of the flan is slightly jiggly (not liquidy, just rather like half set jello). Carefully remove the flan pan from the other pan. I’ve found that the best way to do this without burning your fingers with the water is to use a baster to drain out most of the water, then lift the pan out. Let the flan cool for about an hour at room temp, then refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours more.
- If you want to invert it, you run a butter knife all around the edges and then lay a large serving plate over the top. Quickly but carefully flip the dish and pan over and the flan should slide out. Spoon the caramel sauce remaining in the pan over the flan. But, as I said, I rarely bother with the inversion. It tastes just as good and is far less work, if not as dramatic looking.
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