Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is love a thick, rich flan?

"Or is love a big red apple, and you don’t know
whether to bite into it - and you knock on wood
and call off your luck numbers and hold your breath -
and you put your teeth into it and get a mouthful,
tasting all there is to it,
and whether it’s sweet and wild
or a dry mush you want to spit out,
it’s something else than you expected,
I’m asking, sir, is love a big red apple?"

from Little Word, Little White Bird by Carl Sandburg
The same question can be asked about many foods.

Is love a white peach? As dry and tasteless as a cereal box or lively and vivacious as a dancing toddler?

Or is love a flan? ". . . watery and spongy, and tasting a little like a sponge, too. . . . or thick and rich. . .?" (Paraphrased from Margaret of Finnegan Begin Again's post about flan)

Yes, Carl Sandburg could have just as easily waxed poetic about the uncertainty of love and flan.

He also could have, as Margaret did, continued on about the difficulty of finding a good flan (apparently, a good man and a good flan are both hard to find) and the complex task of making one at home (the flan, that is, not the man).

That's when I remembered the thickest, richest, yummiest flan I have ever tasted. I devoured it at a dinner party more than a year ago and asked the hostess for the recipe. I had completely forgotten about that decadent flan until now.

As it turns out, this easy flan is far from authentic. Flan fans may turn up their noses and hit the "x" button as soon as they see sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese among the ingredients.

But isn't that just like love? Sometimes it's not authentic or the "real thing," but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy every delicious bite.

Is Love a Flan? Flan

3/4 - 1 cup white sugar
1 14oz can of condensed milk
1 12oz can of evaporated milk
4 whole eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. cream cheese

To make the "caramel," melt the sugar in a sauce pan over low to medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar liquefies. Pour into flan pan (or cake pan). Turn the pan around so that some of the sugar coats the edges of the pan a little way up the sides. Set aside.

"What? Are ya' made of sugar? Are you gonna' melt?" YES!

Work quickly to swirl the melted sugar around the pan. It hardens quickly.

In a blender, combine the next five ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Pour the flan into pan and cover with aluminum foil.

Set a larger pan with about an inch of water in the oven and put the flan pan inside that pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a knife inserted in the middle of the flan comes out clean.

Cool the flan and then refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, loosen the edges of the flan with a rubber spatula (or knife) and invert onto a serving plate.

- This was my first time "melting" sugar. At first, I felt like I'd poured a cup of sand into the pot and expected it to liquefy. But the sugar turned to amber liquid in a matter of minutes.
- I tried combining the flan ingredients in my mixer, but the cream cheese doesn't break down enough. Pull out that blender.
- I forgot to cover the pan with aluminum foil, and the top (which becomes the bottom) became a little hard.
- The directions say to bake for one hour, but it was nowhere near done after an hour. Other recipes say 1 1/2 hours, and this is more accurate.
- I was afraid that it would be hard to pry the flan out of the pan, but it slips right out.
- Be careful about centering the flan on the plate when you invert because once it's there, it won't budge.

Now go ahead and dance the "flandango."

I submitted this recipe to Regional Recipes, a food blogging event created by Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok, in which a different culture and cuisine is explored each month. Please read the Regional Recipe rules to see if you'd like to participate. Wandering Chopsticks is this month's host with a spotlight on Mexico. Next month: American food. (I may have to try making biscuits and gravy.)


Desiree said...

ANYTHING with sweetened condensed milk is bound to be a winner.
Can't wait for the tasting party!

Margaret said...

Yum. Now that's more than flan. That's Obamaflan!

pasadenapio said...

I love old fashioned, traditional flan.

I've never made it myself

so I don't know what makes it traditional

but that's what I like.

I know that because I know it

That's why


This was not written by Carl Sandburg.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I kind of enjoyed the unintended poetry you achieved in having to put flan and pan in the same sentences.

About the apple.. Fugis rarely disappoint. Especially when slowly cooked after being cored and stuffed with cinnamon and brown sugar. Maybe not love but a minor state of bliss. Oh yeah, and Cool Whip. There, I said it.

Cafe Observer said...

Flan? Of course not.

altadenahiker said...

I do not like green eggs and flan
I do not like them, Sue I am.
I do not like them in a dish
I do not like them with my fish
I do not like them early or late,
get them, get them off my plate.


Ronni Gordon said...

Maybe if I had some of your good food I'd want to eat!

dp said...

Your flan looks spectabulous! The texture looks perfect.

I'm a sucker for all kinds of custards.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I don't recall seeing the photo's before. I'm kind of wishing I hadn't. I guess my baked Fugis wll have to do. Waaahhhh

Susan C said...

Desiree, I think you're right about the sweetened condensed milk. I made my first key lime pie a couple weeks ago, and swm was the key ingredient (no pun intended).

Margaret, LOL.

PIO, I promise that this recipe is EASY for your first time.

PA, I'm with you in the Fuji apples. I don't think I've ever had a bad one. It's those red delicious that you have to watch out for. Cool Whip? It's as popular as Velveeta, but I could live without it. Velveeta, on the other hand . . . .

CO, Of course not?

AH, Really? You've got to try this. As always, you make me laugh.

Ronni, SOOO good to get a comment from you. I wish I could fly to Boston and bring you any food that would bring your appetite back.

DP, thanks. I was wondering about the texture. Other flans I've had have been jiggly, but this one's dense.

AH, Yes, I came back and added pictures and notes. Baked Fujis sound delish. With brown sugar and Cool Whip?

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I bet it's tasty with the cream cheese addition. That's new to me.

BTW, looks like you forgot to include the Regional Recipes info to the post. Thanks for submitting!

Susan C said...

WC, Thanks for the reminder; I knew I forgot something. I've now added the Regional Recipes info.

Petrea said...

I had flan once when I was a kid. I didn't like it so I never had it again. I should probably try it. I might like it. I've come to like peas and spinach.

Nelle said...

OMG this looks heavenly but I think there would be way too much sugar for me with my carb counting.

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