QUESILLO DE COCO (Venezuelan coconut flan, for twelve)
For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
For the flan:
3-½ cups whole milk, divided
one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
¼ cup sweetened flaked coconut, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons dark rum
toasted coconut for garnish (optional)
twelve 4-ounce ramekins
1. Make the caramel. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber. Immediately pour into ramekins and swirl so caramel coats bottom of each, then put ramekins in a large roasting pan.
2. Make the flan. Preheat oven to 350* with rack in the middle.
3. Blend 2 cups milk with remaining flan ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 1-½ cups milk, then divide among ramekins.
4. Bake flan in a water bath until just set but still wobbly in center, 1 to 1-¼ hours.
5. Remove ramekins from water bath and cool slightly on a rack, at least 15 minutes (flan will continue to set as it cools). Just before serving, run a thin knife around each flan, then invert onto plates. Sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired.
NOTE: Flan can be made 2 days ahead. Chill in ramekins, uncovered, until cool, then cover. Let stand at room temperature about 1 hour before serving.
from Posado Acuarela, Los Roques, Venezuela, printed in Gourmet Magazine, 2007