Flan is a type of custard that is loved and appreciated all over the world. There are many different types and it can be made either savory or sweet. It can be cheesy, with or without vegetables, or it can be sweet and served on its own or with chocolate, fruits or nuts, or just about any other way you can think of to make it.
Flan was first created by the Ancient Romans, with the help of the Ancient Greeks. The Romans had domesticated chickens for the eggs, and had an abundance of eggs that they needed to use. The Ancient Greeks were known for their art of cooking. The two civilizations collaborated and flan, or flado, was created, although to the Ancient Romans, flan was known as tyropatinam. The word flado, which meant “flat cake” somehow evolved to the Old French word flaon, which then became flan, as we now know it today. Originally flans were savory dishes, which ironically is not how most people think of flans today. Flans in modern times, are almost always thought of as a sweet dessert, particularly in Spanish countries. The English speaking countries usually refer to flans as custards, and are often cooked in a pastry crust with fruits or nuts. Me personally, I will eat it any which way it comes, whether it is called flan, custard or creme brulee, I’m in and I am going to love it.
Back in the days when I was cooking professionally, I was always being asked “what types of foods were my favorite to cook”. I love all kinds of foods and love being an adventurous eater. My answer has always been that rather than focusing on a particular type of food or style of cooking, I prefer to cook in themes. I still do, and I try to do this as much as possible. So when I made my pork and pumpkin empanadas, Pork and Pumpkin Empanadas I was also looking for a good side dish to accompany them. I was going through all my Spanish and Latin cookbooks until I found just the right dish I was looking for. I came across a recipe for garlic flan. I had never heard of a garlic flan before and I thought it sounded really interesting and different. It is also very easy to make, with just a few simple ingredients.
1 TBSP garlic
2 cups heavy whipping cream or half & half
5 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 350* F or 180* C
Spray individual serving ramekins with cooking spray and place in a shallow baking dish big enough to hold them.
Whisk all the ingredients together and pour even amounts into the prepared ramekins.
Place the filled ramekins in the baking pan and add about 1 inch of water, or enough to cover the bottom 1/3 of the ramekins. This is called a “bain marie” or water bath. It is used when baking custards or other delicate egg dishes so the eggs don’t scramble and cook on the bottom while the dish is baking. Wrap the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 45-60 minutes. You want the custards to be cooked and set, yet still soft. Let the flans cool a bit, then top with your favorite vinaigrette and serve. I used my chili lime vinaigrette on top. This is an acquired taste, more for the texture than the flavors, especially when served as a side dish rather than a dessert. I loved it, but Larry was a bit skeptical about it. To each his or her own.