Flan with Roasted Pears
I love making deserts, and Flan is one of my favorites. I like flan the best when it is super dense and creamy, like creme brulee. Here's the creamiest flan I know how to make. It takes a long time, and you need to start the day before, but it's not much actual work, and it will get you in people's pants, I promise.
- 9 1/4x5 1/4x3-inch nonstick metal loaf pan ($4 at Giant Eagle)
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 7 1/2 large egg yolks
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
First, cook the maple syrup, (the real stuff, not Aunt Jemimah, and yes, it will be a bit pricey), in a medium saucepan over low heat for about 7 minutes, until it's reduced to 3/4 cup.
Keep your heat low, it will want to boil over. When it's finished, reduce the heat, and slowly stir in your whipping cream, and bring it back up to a boil.
Whisk your eggs, and while the cream/syrup mixture is still nice and hot, pour it into the egg bowl slowly while whisking like crazy. Add your salt. It should look like this;
Pour the mix through a strainer and back into a bowl, cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge for at least two hours, but as long as a day.
About 30 minutes before you bring it out of the fridge, mix your sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan over low heat, simmering until the sugar dissolves into the water. You will know that this has happened when the mix is pretty much clear. After the sugar has melted, turn your heat to high and bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Do not stir, just every once in awhile swish the pot a bit. After about 5-8 minutes, it will become a deep, golden brown. This means that the sugar has caramelized. Pour this immediately into your loaf pan, and carefully tilt the pan to coat all sides, as close to the top as you can get.
It will make the pan very hot, so be careful. Also, it hardens rather quickly, so you'll have to be fast. When it's hard, there's no going back, and it get rock hard.
Let that sit for about 10 minutes, and then pour your maple/cream mix from the fridge in it. The hard sugar coating should be higher than the level of custard in the pan.
Now, here's the tricky part. Place the loaf pan in a bigger roasting pan, and fill with hot water until it is about halfway up the loaf pan. Cover with foil, and take a fork and poke holes all over the foil.
Put this in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour, 45 minutes. Then increase the temp to 345, take off the foil, and cook for another hour, uncovered, or until it looks like this;
It will still jiggle around in the middle, but that's fine. Cover this and refrigerate overnight, for at least 12 hours, but as long as you wish, up to 24. The longer it stays in the fridge, the firmer it will be, and you want it nice and firm.
Now, let's make our pears, starting about 30 minutes before you want to serve your flan, as they should be warm, it's a nice contrast with the cold flan.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 3 ripe pears, unpeeled, quartered, cored 1/4 cup pure maple syrup 1/4 cup sour cream 1/8 teaspoon salt
If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, then use one skillet to cook the pears on the stove-top, and then make sure that you get everything from the skillet into your pan you intent to use in the oven.
Melt your butter in the skillet over medium-high heat, and throw in your pears, one of the cut sides down. Cook for about 4 minutes, until they're nice and brown on the side in the butter. Turn to the other cut side, and cook for about another 4 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup and bring to a boil. If your skillet is oven-proof, stick it in the oven at 375. If not, use a spatula and get everything from the skillet into the pan, and make sure the pears are skin-up. Cook for about 25 minutes, until the pears are soft and brown. Use a slotted spoon to get the pears out, and mix your sour cream and salt in sauce left in the pan, until it's nice and creamy. Throw your pears back in, tossing them around so they're coated in sauce.
Take a sharp, thin knife and go around the edges of your flan, and then invert it onto a platter. Slice it into thin slices, serve it with a few pears, and drizzle the sour cream sauce over the whole thing. Trust me, it is heaven in your mouth. Mine shoud have cooked a bit longer, so that's why it looks like it's about to fall over, it's not as firm.
I forgot to take a picture of it arranged on a plate, but that's because I was serving for guests, and they all thought that it was pretty weird already that I was taking picutures of myself cooking.