I love to try new things and recipes for guests... We had a family gathering and when I told my mom I was going to make Spanish caramel flan, a flan without condensed milk I received fake smiles and nods from everyone in the kitchen... The reason? My mom makes the best Condensend milk flan I have ever tried, a traditional recipe in Brazil that is so easy to make that I think no one bothers to try a new recipe!
I had been willing to try a different flan recipe for quite some time... and on the way to my parents' house I bookmarked the Spanish flan from the book Perfect Desserts - a collection of over 100 essential recipes (Parragon Publishing) that I got from a friend. Well... the dessert turned out superb and no one was disappointed!
For the Custard
2 1/2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
1/2 orange with 2 long, thin pieces of rind removed
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
For the caramel
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
a few drops of orange juice
1 5-cup flan dish (quiche dish), a round mould or 4 to 6 ramekins
1 large baking/roasting pan for the water bath
1) Pour the milk into a pan with the orange rind and vanilla bean and extract. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in half cup of sugar. Set aside 30 minutes to infuse.
2) Meanwhile make the caramel: put 1/2 cup sugar and 4 tablespoons of water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves, then boil without stirring until the caramel turns deep golden brown. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and squeeze in a few drops of orange juice to stop the cooking. Pour into a lightly greased flan dish or ramekins and swirl to cover the base.
3) Return the pan of infused milk to the heat and bring to a simmer. Beat the whole eggs and egg yolks together in a heatproof bowl. Pour the warm milk into the eggs, whisking constantly. Strain into the flan dish.
4) Place the flan dish in a baking pan and fill with enough boiling water come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in a preheated oven 325° F/160° C for 60-75 minutes until set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the flan dish from the baking pan and set aside to cool completely. Cover and let chill overnight. To serve, run a metal spatula round the flan, then invert onto a serving plate, shaking firmly to release.