When life hands you a dozen egg yolks, you make flan, as the famous saying goes.
It’s a beautiful, lazy afternoon. The sun has decided to play along, and it flits in an out behind soft white clouds. The courtyard is looking particularly peach these days, instead of its ashen winter hue – the pinkish-gray of an undercooked shrimp
I’m in the mood for baking, a rarity as these things go, and I magically, miraculously have all the ingredients to make leche flan, a dense, rich and creamy take on flan made only with egg yolks and other ingredients to make your arteries groan in sadomasochistic delight.
The garish sounds of some awful Colombian cartoon are playing in the background, and yet it feels strangely appropriate today. The sun, the oven set to preheat, the laugh track in another language – it feels like a charmed life. Except, of course, that I can’t get David to stop eating spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk as I caramelize the sugar and simmer whole milk down to make evaporated milk.
With the weather finally warming up and the sun showing up for whole hours at a time, I’m realizing what a huge impact this dull, gray winter has had on me. All winter, I’ve felt dull and gray myself, wanting so hard to be productive and relaxed in appropriate measures, but simply feeling sluggish and beat – always – and always feeling like I wasn’t doing enough.
The sunshine is like a balm. I’m making flan, and there’s nothing else I should be, or want to be doing.
By the time the flan is out of the oven, the apartment smells heavenly and rich. There’s a bit of tension for the flip, but the flan drops gracefully down on the plate as silky caramel puddles around the creamy line of flan. David and I grab spoons and eat it straight from the serving platter. It tastes sunny and quietly sweet, creamy and calm, like a daydream.
If you, like me, live in a place where you can’t find evaporated milk, it’s easy enough to make your own. For the amount called for in this recipe, simmer 2 cups of whole milk until reduced to 1 cup. Allow to cool.
¾ cup granulated sugar
12 egg yolks
1 14 oz. can (1 ¼ cup, 376 g) sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can (1 cup) evaporated milk (or 2 cups whole milk)
Preheat oven to 375º F (190º C).
Melt sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat just seconds after the sugar begins to foam. Stir briskly until the foam dissolves. Divide caramelized sugar evenly between ramekins and allow to cool and harden.
In a medium bowl, gently whisk egg yolks, evaporated milk, and condensed milk. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth before pouring into the ramekins.
Place the ramekins into a wide baking dish filled with 1 inch of water. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
To serve, flip each ramekin over a plate and when the custard has fallen, remove the ramekin, allowing the caramel to flow over the custard.