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Bern’s recipe is a variation on my friend, Clarita Garcia’s original recipe for Flan de Leche Acaramelado, or Spanish English Custard. Clarita, now 85 years old lives in Tampa and still believes that this recipe takes top billing in the subject of Spanish desserts. Bern’s variation uses whole vanilla beans and heavy cream, but vanilla extract and whole milk is actually used in the original recipe. Here is the original recipe from Clarita’s book, Clarita’s Cocina. It is a classic among Tampa’s gastronomes.
Note: When “goose pimple” appear in the bano Maria, it is time to add a little cold water to end the threat of boiling. (Mistakes that are made by many in preparing flan correctly are: eggs are not beaten sufficiently; the water in the bano Maria is allowed to boil; or the custard is allowed to cook too long. If you wait until the crust is brown, then you have cooked the custard too long.
Yield: 6 servings
- 2 cups (1 pint) whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 whole eggs
- 12 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Scald the milk with the salt. In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the eggs with 6 tablespoons of the sugar and vanilla until light and foamy. Add the scaled milk to the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Set aside.
Spoon the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar into a small iron skillet. Place the skillet over low heat and cook until a foamy golden caramel is obtained (be extremely careful not to burn the sugar). Immediately pour the caramel into a 1 ½ quart casserole and quickly coat the bottom of the casserole by rotating and tilting it until it is completely coated. Allow to set. This will take only a few seconds.
Strain egg mixture into a medium-size pyrex casserole. Place in a shallow pan with hot water (bano Maria). Set oven temperature at 375° F. and place pan in center of oven. Cook for approximately 1 hour, or until custard is set.
Test for doneness by inserting a cake tester in center of custard. When it comes out clean, the custard is done. When the custard achieves a delicate golden yellow crust, it is also an indication that it is ready to come out of the oven. Do not allow water to boil in the baňo Maria. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Serve deliciously chilled.
To serve, first remove from casserole by running a knife around the edge, shake lightly
And invert onto a shallow serving platter. The caramel will drip gracefully down the sides of the custard to form a delicious sauce. Spoon into dessert saucers. Accompany each serving with a delicate vanilla cookie. To make individual custards, divide the caramel quickly among 6 custard cups; allow to set, then pour strained egg mixture into each cup and cook as directed above.