Vanilla Flan

After gobbling up a double batch of chips and guacamole followed by Sam Sifton’s Middle School Tacos, we ate this flan as our celebratory Cinco de Mayo dessert this year.

A while ago, my son read a book that mentioned flan and he really wanted to make it. We actually made it together at that time. 🙂  It really is quite simple to prepare, and he felt like he had achieved a great accomplishment when it came out well. He’s been asking to have it again ever since!

I think that it is particularly delicious served with strawberries. This recipe is a blend of multiple flan recipes- including one from my grandmother.

Yield: One 8-inch flan

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (low fat can be substituted)
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • strawberries, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, occasionally swirling, until amber, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Pour into a 1 1/2 to 2 qt (8-in) ceramic baking dish or 8-in cake pan, tilting to cover the bottom surface and halfway up the sides of the dish.
  5. Place the prepared dish on a dish towel or a silicone pot holder (to prevent it from shifting) inside a roasting pan. (I used an enameled cast iron lasagna pan.)
  6. Place the eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt in a Vitamix. Blend for 20 seconds. (Alternatively, mixture can be whisked in a bowl until combined.)
  7. Pour through a fine strainer into the prepared pan.
  8. Slide the oven rack out and place the roasting pan on the hot rack.
  9. Fill the outside of the pan with HOT water halfway up the sides of the flan dish.
  10. Bake for 60-70+ minutes, or until the center is wobbly.
  11. Remove from the oven; let cool to room temperature.
  12. Remove flan from the water bath. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  13. Dip the bottom of the dish in warm water, then invert onto a rimmed platter. Serve.

One Year Ago: Cheesy Enchilada Skillet

Two Years Ago: Cinco de Mayo Chicken-Chipotle Tacos

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Crème Brûlée

My son wanted a dessert that he could “light on fire” to celebrate his 12th birthday. I hope that this is age appropriate. 😉

After rejecting my suggestion of Bananas Foster, he chose a classic crème brûlée. andyes, with close supervision, he torched his dessert!

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, via Food Network.com. I used large eggs, Cointreau instead of Grand Marnier, slightly adapted the method and increased the baking time. Special and delicious.

Yield: Makes 6 ramekins/servings

  • 1 large egg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low-speed until just combined.
  3. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled.
  4. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. (I transferred the hot cream to a liquid measuring cup to ease adding it into the mixer bowl.)
  5. Add the vanilla and liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
  6. Place the ramekins in a 9×13 pyrex baking pan (I placed a square silicone pot holder underneath the ramekins so that they didn’t shift in the pan.)
  7. Glide the oven rack out of the oven cavity and place the pan on the rack. Carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (I used a tea kettle.)
  8. Slowly glide rack into the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken.
  9. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm. (I refrigerated them overnight.)
  10. To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly.
  11. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

and…

Of course, it wouldn’t be a birthday in our house without also having Number Cookies. 🙂 I had to make a couple of numeric “12’s” to go along with my son’s Roman Numeral “XII’s”. 🙂 They were swimming pool blue for my swimmer this year. ❤

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Pear Clafoutis

My mom and brother were in France last week, so I made a clafoutis. It makes perfect sense… I was pretending that we were there too! 😉 Clafoutis was always one of my mom’s favorite desserts to make for dinner parties. It is simple, elegant, and delicious. Absolutely wonderful with pears too!

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, via Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Food Network.com. I used Cuarenta y Tres (a Spanish citrus and vanilla liqueur) instead of Poire William. I substituted large for extra-large eggs, omitted the creme fraiche garnish, and used the zest of one lemon. I also modified the baking time to fit my deeper pan. Next time I would bake it in a wider, more shallow pan so that the pears were visible in the finished product. Lovely!

Yield: Serves 8

Total Time: about 1 hour

  • 1 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, separated
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 T pear brandy (such as Poire William) or citrus-vanilla liqueur (such as Cuarenta y Tres)
  • 2 to 3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
  • creme fraiche, for garnish, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 10 x 3-inch round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. (I used a 9 x 3-inch pan.)
  3. Beat the eggs and the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and liqueur. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears.
  6. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish.
  7. Pour the batter over the pears and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, and creme fraiche, if desired.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Forget banana bread, this ice cream is the perfect use for super ripe bananas on the counter! 😉

I know that the trend is to make healthy banana ice cream, but this one is the real deal. It has puréed bananas in the custard base instead of milk. I added vanilla extract and chocolate chips to make it even more special. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. SO so SO creamy!!

Yield: About 1 1/2 pints

For the Fruit:

  • 4 very ripe medium bananas
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk

For the Base:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Prepare the Fruit:

  1. In a blender, purée bananas, sugar, lemon juice and salt until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)

To Make the Base:

  1. In a small pot, simmer heavy cream, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.
  3. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
  5. Stir buttermilk and the fruit purée into base. Add the vanilla extract. Cool mixture to room temperature. (I place the bowl into an ice bath.)
  6. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. (I place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the base before placing in it into the refrigerator.)
  7. Churn the base in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. At the end of processing, add the chocolate chips; continue processing until evenly incorporated.
  8. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed. If storing in the freezer, directly cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap before covering with the lid in order to prevent icing.

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Black & White Crème Brûlée

When my husband works at night, he is home with me during the day. It is the best! Not only are we able to do yard work and other things around the house (fun!?!) together, we occasionally also go out for a special lunch while the kids are at school. Recently, we had an amazing lunch and splurged on dessert as well- it was a black and white crème brûlée- SO delicious. Such a nice surprise to have the taste of chocolate underneath the classic custard. It had to be recreated at home! 🙂

I started collecting recipes while living in Charleston, South Carolina- many years ago. Southern Living was my absolute favorite recipe resource. I had saved this recipe for many many many years and was so happy to have found it! (My crazy recipe collection payed off!) It was similar to the delicious dessert we had enjoyed. I adapted the recipe to decrease the portion size, adjust the cooking time, to incorporate dark bittersweet chocolate, and to torch the brown sugar topping.

The chocolate layer is baked first. When I poured the custard topping over the chocolate layer, some of it rose to the top. I don’t think that the baking time needed to be adjusted- next time I would pour the custard layer even more slowly over the top? I’m not sure if it would make a difference, but it certainly didn’t affect the flavor. SO rich and delicious! This recipe was adapted from Southern Living. We enjoyed it on Easter this year; it is perfect for a dinner party or special occasion because it is made a day ahead.

Yield: 8 servings (using 4 to 5 oz ramekins)

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 5 oz dark bittersweet chocolate (I used 71% cacao Valrhona chocolate), finely chopped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  1. Cook 1/2 cup whipping cream and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together remaining 2 cups whipping cream, yolks, sugar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Whisk 1 cup egg mixture into chocolate mixture until smooth. Cover and chill remaining egg mixture.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture evenly into 8 (4 to 5-ounce) custard ramekins; place ramekins in a 13- x 9-inch pan and a 8- x 8-inch pan. (I placed a silicone square underneath to prevent the ramekins from shifting in the pan.) Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.
  4. Bake at 325° (I used convection) for 15 to 20 minutes or until almost set. (Center will be soft.)
  5. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over custards, and bake 20 to 25 more minutes or until set.
  6. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours.
  7. Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  8. Using a handheld propane kitchen torch, brûlée the topping until caramelized. Let stand 5 minutes to allow sugar to harden before serving.

Note: Make the custard a day ahead and torch the topping at the last minute.

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Vanilla Bean Milk Tart with Brown Sugar Crust

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The cover of the Martha Stewart Living Thanksgiving issue displays an assortment of pies. I decided I needed to make a pie before Thanksgiving- because I am not planning to make six different types on Thanksgiving and I don’t want to limit myself!! My husband and daughter selected the same pie to try first… milk pie.

This pie is really a tart. The crust is cookie-like and delicious. The filling is reminiscent of rice pudding, in a vanilla bean, custardy sort of way. Delicious!! This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

For the Crust:

  • 2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

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  1. Make the Crust: In a food processor, pulse brown sugar and 1/4 cup flour to combine. Add salt and remaining 1 cup flour; pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse just until mixture forms pea-size clumps. Add egg yolk and ice water and pulse just until mixture starts to come together. Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and bring together in plastic to form a disk. Wrap and refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-inch round. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim edges flush with rim. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. (I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.)
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tart pan on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Line dough with double parchment; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 25 minutes, then remove parchment and beans. Bake until crust is golden and set throughout, about 10 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Make the Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat milk and cream with vanilla pod and seeds until almost boiling.
  5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together egg and granulated sugar until combined and thick, about 4-5 minutes, then whisk in flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  6. Reduce heat of the milk and cream to medium, then slowly whisk egg mixture into cream mixture. Continue whisking until bubbles appear in center of pan, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour filling into cooled crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to overnight. Cut into wedges to serve.

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Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

I shared this ice cream base recipe with a friend early in the summer – of course with plans to try it soon myself. When she raved about the strawberry and chocolate versions that she had made, I had to move it to the top of my “to make” list!

I used the custard base from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark, and added vanilla extract and crushed cookies to make it into one of my favorite flavors. I also chilled the base in an ice bath after cooking in lieu of refrigerating overnight before freezing. We wanted to enjoy it the same day!! 🙂 Very tasty! 🙂

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 pints

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 20 chocolate cookies with vanilla creme filling such as Oreo cookies or Trader Joe’s Joe Joe’s
  1. In a small pot, simmer heavy cream, milk, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.
  3. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl set in an ice bath. Add vanilla extract and stir to mix. Stir intermittently until base is chilled. (Alternatively the base can be cooled to room temperature and the covered and chilled at least 4 hours or overnight.)
  5. Meanwhile, place cookies in a gallon-size zip-lock bag. Crush with a mallet until pieces are desired size.
  6. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers’ instructions. At the end of churning, add crushed cookies to the machine. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until firm, about 4 hours.

One Year Ago:

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