coffee flan

There's something particularly dreamy about flan. And then there's something about the below picture that makes it even dreamier.
photo by: Mikkel Vang

our version:
Who can claim this lovely dessert? I guess it's technically Spanish, but it feels sort of French and Italian as well, though the mainstay of my encounters with flan have been entirely Argentine. I have distinct memories of my Argentine host mom ordering this dessert on more than one occasion. "Un flan." I can hear her say it--for the non-Spanish speakers, it goes something like: oon flun. Between the light custardy texture and the thin, cold caramel-syrup it's soaking in, there's something so special about this dessert--a treat seemingly only found in restaurants so that it just appears in front of you like magic. But now I've made un flan. En casa. And I'm almost afraid to ruin everything by telling you that it's an extremely manageable endeavor. Since making this coffee flan for the first time for this attempt and a potluck dinner, I've already made it again just for Matt and me.

That being said, perhaps all flan recipes aren't created equal. I can only tell you that this recipe, which I pulled from the cookbook, The Best of Gourmet, and which calls for sweetened condensed milk is quite manageable. This brings me to something I've been meaning to discuss: sweetened condensed milk. Why is this food product not available at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods? Is it not a whole food? It's just milk and sugar, right? I mean, if Whole Foods carries shortening, I would think that they could find it in their hearts to carry sweetened condensed milk. And if I could take you a little further on this matter, if I had to blame this oversight on some entity--if it is indeed an oversight--I would blame it on the design/packaging people of Eagle Brand. With a product named sweetened condensed milk, you gotta make a sexier-looking can than this.
Hands down the coolest part of this flan was making the caramel. I guess this makes sense now, post-attempt, but I had no idea that you could cook dry sugar all by itself and it would turn into this beautiful amber liquid that would harden in a matter of seconds and then after baking and chilling would turn into that sugary syrup that envelops the custard part.
Sherlock Holmes would be like: "After stabbing the flan for the second time with a commonplace butter knife, Amelia realized the dessert was done cooking."
This flan tasted exactly like flan should. Like caramel and cream with a very vague delicious almost-burnt taste to it. Do you know what I'm talking about? It's a taste very specific to flan and many things caramel-ly. If only all meals could end with something this light and dreamy. Though tonight it's cookies and cream ice cream and a viewing of The Last Mistress. I'm not in Rafaela, Argentina, but it could be worse.

For recipe, click HERE.


Mary Anne said...

i guess the french version would be creme brulee? i know what you mean about that burnt caramel flavor... mmm, someone should make an ice cream flavor that captures that burnt crust on top of a creme brulee. (this is a million dollar idea that i'm throwing out to you, blogosphere.)

will you make this for me sometime, amers? yours looks gorgeous.

Matthew said...

This was the best dessert yet! Thank god we got to eat this one and didn't leave it one untouched at a birthday party like flan attempt number 1!

Heather Taylor said...

i want this.

Megan Taylor said...

Wow, looks like a total success. I feel the need to send this post around to all my foodie friends. They will see, want and make. YUM!

Danielle (elleinadspir$ said...

I haaaate flan. Cold and slimey. Sorry. But your version does look like perfection (if I liked flan). And your Sherlock Holmes impression made me laugh out loud.

Amelia Morris said...

thanks, ladies & matt!

mary anne: i will most definitely make this for you. come visit asap.

dulci said...

wiggly jiggly FLAN!
looks custardy and yum


Anonymous said...

btw you could be a hand model!

Amelia Morris said...

omg, anonymous, who are you?! best comment ever. hahaaa

Kerry Headley said...

Between the Robyn video and this, I am sad I started at UNCW's MFA program after you left. Great blog!