I’m a big believer that a meal is not complete unless it ends with something sweet. That something sweet doesn’t have to be fancy or decadent. It doesn’t have to include the words molten, chocolate or cake. It can even come wrapped in a noisy, plastic wrapper. All I care about is speed – how quickly it arrives after the meal, and satisfaction – how deeply it works to end my craving.
During these hot months, I’m usually quite happy with standby ice creams, sorbets and other icy concoctions. Most nights, fresh sliced mangoes, cherries or strawberries even do the trick. However, this past weekend, I wanted more. I needed more. I was craving something just a little different, a little special – that I could whip up without the use of my oven in 90 degree heat and more importantly, with minimal effort. It’s summer, ya know, and there’s much time to be wasted beachcombing for sea glass, taking long, lazy mid-afternoon strolls, or simply sitting by the dock of the bay.
I see gorgeous fresh eggs in the refrigerator and after a quick phone call to Mom (Thanks, Mom!), I’m on my way. Unlike a typical flan, this one requires no water bath, no baking, less eggs and less sugar. It’s a healthier, lighter, speedier version of the decadent dessert we all know and love. Just pull out your handy dandy steamer and in 15 minutes flat, the flan cooks to perfection. After an overnight slumber in the fridge, you’re left with a smooth, silky, cooling treat, blanketed by a thin layer of velvety caramel. Plus, it’s easy on the eyes and leaves more free time to be wasted this summer.
Chinese Steamed Flan
Kiss My Spatula’s version of her Mom’s recipe, yields 6 3-1/2 inch ramekins
Refrigerating overnight is best. This allows for the caramel to set and for easy removal once inverted. Feel free to top with your favorite berries or leave them out completely. Mom likes it best just with some crushed ice on top.
Music Pairing: Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
Spread sugar evenly in the bottom of a heavy saucepan and place over medium-low heat. It may take several minutes before the sugar begins to melt. Without stirring, watch the sugar closely as it begins to liquefy at the edges. It will slowly turn from a yellow to a golden and finally to a brown caramel sauce.
When the liquefied sugar is turning from golden to brown, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Watch carefully! (If you miss this point, the sugar will quickly turn too dark and you will have to start all over again). Immediately pour liquid caramel into 6 3-1/2 inch ramekins and swirl to cover bottom evenly. The caramel hardens rapidly, so work quickly. Set aside.
Place 2 inches of water on the bottom portion of steamer. Cover and allow water to come to a boil. In the meantime, heat milk and sugar in a saucepan until just warmed and sugar has dissolved. Whisk eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until blended. Slowly pour warmed milk into the eggs, beating until well combined. Scoop off foam and discard. Ladle into prepared ramekins and place into steamer.
Turn down heat – this is very important – to medium and steam for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Once cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, carefully run a knife around the inside each ramekin to loosen the flan. Place a plate on top of the flan and invert until flan pops out. Serve with sliced strawberries.