There is, apparently, a right way and a wrong way to eat dessert.
When I lived in France, one of my favorite things to get at the Franprix was the flan four-pack. After a hot afternoon, jammed in a metro, one small satisfaction was getting home, pulling back the plastic top, and sinking my spoon into the cool caramel center. Whatever fleeting frustrations I had, melted away. You had to love a country whose grocery stores carried a fifty-cent flan.
Week after week, I enjoyed my flan. Break off a container, pull back the top, sink the spoon in, and enjoy. I might get lost in certain arrondissements. I might not understand the jokes in the movies. I might get frustrated with certain french customs. But I knew my flan. Or so I thought.
One night, I was at a small party, when I noticed the familiar yellow and brown packaging on the dessert table. I grabbed a spoon and sat down to enjoy my flan. But just as I did, one of my friends looked at me, quizzically, and then blurted out, “Tu le manges comme ça?” “You eat it like that?”
It was as if I’d never heard of Jean-Luc Godard.
My French friend grabbed another flan and small paper plate. He opened the top and inverted the flan on top of the plate. He then pointed to a thin strip of tape on the bottom of the flan. Pulling the tape, he noted, released the vacuum and dropped the flan smoothly onto the plate. This, he said, was how you eat a flan.
When I took the ramekins out of the refrigerator, I took the foil off the top, and stared at the creamy top. After a moment of reflection, I grabbed my spoon, and dipped it straight into the flan.
But no matter which way you choose to eat your flan, it’s guaranteed to be delicious!
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Desserts.
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 45 minutes
YIELD: Makes 6 Flans
WHAT TO GRAB:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
Butter for greasing
3 large eggs
1 additional egg white
2 cups low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla pod)
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 Kosher salt
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter six six-ounce ramekins or custard cups.
2. Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Continue cooking, no longer stirring, until the water has just turned golden or very light brown. You want to be sure not to burn the caramel!
3. Once golden, immediately pour the mixture into the six ramekins, tilting each cup quickly until the caramelized sugar coats bottom of cup. Set aside.
4. Beat the eggs and additional egg white in a medium bowl with a whisk. Stir in the milk, vanilla, 2/3 cup sugar, and the salt. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins or custard cups. Place cups in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, and add hot water to the pan to a depth of one inch. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove the cups from a pan. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.
5. Loosen the edges of the flans with a knife or rubber spatula. Place a dessert plate, upside down, on top of each cup, and invert onto the plates. Garnish with raspberries, if desired, and serve!