Flan is a popular sweet dessert similar to a quiche or custard tart. A flan is elegant, trendy custard, rich dessert that can be prepared to almost any occasion. They are not like instant pudding or jello but something unique and the time and effort in preparing the flan is what makes flan delightful and a treat to be tasted.
Flan consists on a variety of ingredients including savory which includes cheese, asparagus, pumpkin and sweet like almond, coffee, chocolate, pineapple and coconut. In the savory version its filling is not custard based but the base is of shortcrust pastry.
The British style savory flans have diverged from the sweeter Spanish flans in the middle Ages. The Modern English word ‘flan’ and the earlier ‘flawn’ comes from the French word flan derived from the Old Castillian flado which means a sort of flat cake probably from an Indo-European root for ‘flat’ or ‘broad’.
The flan from back to ancient time has always inspired variation and invention. We especially lot of variance between Spanish and English style flans. Spanish flans are made especially in different shapes and sizes of flan molds whereas English flans can be made in standard pie dishes.
There are a variety of flan recipes which are extremely delicious with different flavorings like the coffee flan, cheese flan, chocolate flan, English custard flan etc. Recipes of flan where found way back in ancient Rome. It was during Roman times that domesticated chickens were first kept for laying eggs.
The Romans, with eggs in surplus, and consulting the Greek's knowledge of the art of cooking, developed new recipes, one of which turned out to be a custardly concoction known as flan. It was originally a savory dish (not sweet, but aromatic and satisfying to the palate). The Romans concocted many dishes that we might find interesting, such as eel flan. They also had a very nice sweet flan that was flavored with honey. Interestingly, flan found two different outlets.
In Spain it became sweet custard generally made with caramelized sugar. Besides the Roman influence, the Moors introduced citrus and almonds which are commonly found to flavor flan. Once Christopher Columbus found America the rush to the riches of the region brought the richness of flan with it. Nearly all of Central and South America loves flan in its various forms. It has become especially associated with Mexico where flan is exquisitely produced in the kitchens of rich and poor alike.
In preparing a delicious flan, first blend all the ingredients like milk, condensed milk, eggs, salt, sugar, vanilla essence. Pour the flan mixture through a metal strainer right into the caramelized pan. Set the mold in a broiling pan. Cook in at 350 degrees oven for one hour. After 20 minutes check to see if its getting too brown on top, if so cover loosely with foil. Test the flan to see if its done by inserting a knife in the center. If the flan is still soft, let it cook long until a knife inserted again comes out clean.
Remover from the oven carefully and let it sit on the counter until it cools. Then cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. To serve, lay plate on top of the mold then carefully flip it over and slide the mold off. Melt a cup of sugar in a non-stick pan over low heat and immediately pour in the caramel into a metal pan and swirl it around to cover the bottom and sides. The caramel should have cooled down before you pour the egg mixture in it. Flan taste unique and is fun to eat and make. Its smooth, soft texture just melts into your mouth.
Do try this recipe as kids would really love it. Click on link for detailed recipe:
English flan is generally has a flaky crust that requires a different style pan. A basic Spanish flan is exceptional, delicious that brings out the purity and indulgent qualities inherent in the dessert dish.