DIANA KENNEDY’S NOTES ON MAKING FLAN
Diana Kennedy, one of the first cookbook writers to popularize Mexican cooking in the United States, offers the following notes for making flan. Note that some of the recipes that follow do not observe all of her guidelines, but they remain useful if trouble shooting becomes necessary.
- To make caramel: First heat a small heavy frying pan. Add ½ cup granulated sugar and leave it over a medium flame for a few minutes until the sugar on the bottom has melted and is transparent. Raise the flame and stir the sugar with a wooden spoon until it turns a deep brown and starts to froth up. The color will depend on how dark you like the caramel, but be careful not to let it burn too much. Pour the caramel into the flan mold and turn the mold around quickly, tipping it from side to side until there is an even coating of the caramel over the bottom and halfway up the sides of the mold.
- Let the caramel cool before adding the flan mixture.
- Always cover the mold with a lid – it helps the cooking of the flan and prevents a hard skin from forming. For almond and coconut flans the mixture will rise up to the top of the mold, so be sure to grease the inside of the lid well with butter.
- Always set the mold in a water bath of hot water that comes about halfway up the outside of the mold.
- Always set the mold on the lowest shelf of the oven.
- To test to see if the flan is cooked through, insert the blade of a knife or skewer well into flan. The knife should come out clean. Take care not to pierce the flan at the bottom or it will spoil the appearance of the top when it is unmolded.
- It is not essential to make flan the day before, but it makes serving easier.
- Always serve a flan at room temperature to enhance flavor.
- A flan is delicate, so take special care when you are unmolding it. If the caramel was cooked to a very high point, it will harden while standing in the refrigerator. Do not attempt to unmold it unless you are absolutely certain that the caramel has melted. The flan should slither around easily as you tip the mold. If you are not certain, place the mold in a pan of warm water for about 5 minutes and then test again. Do not attempt to loosen a flan with a knife.
- Unmold the flan onto a dish or plate that has a little bit of depth so that none of the caramel is lost.