Monday, August 30, 2010

Coconut-Milk Cream Cheese Flan

I made this flan for dessert last night, and it was amazing. It was really more like a cheesecake-flan hybrid. Two of the pickiest eaters I know (Aleah and Anna) ate it. And they don't like some pretty tasty things!
This recipe is from a book my good friend Andrea gave me for my birthday called "Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey". It's a book full of decadent, guilt-inducing desserts that are well worth the work and the calories. This is one that needs several hours or overnight to chill, so plan ahead! This always something I don't take into account, and then end up with dessert a day later than I needed it.
It looks long and complicated, but it really isn't. Just don't burn the caramel and don't let the foil touch the custard! These are two things I learned the hard way!

Coconut-Milk Cream Cheese Flan

1 C sugar
2 T water
1/2 t fresh lemon juice

16 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 C coconut milk (asian section, easy)
1/2 C cream of coconut (in the pseudo-liquor section, like with all the margarita mixers and grenadine and stuff, surprisingly easy)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
7 eggs
1/2 t vanilla
boiling water

Place a rack in the middle level and preheat the oven to 300 F.

To make the caramel, combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, stirring carefully every so often. When the color changes slightly, turn the heat to high and cook to an amber color. Sugar still cooks once the heat is off so try to catch it right before it turns, about 4 minutes. If it starts to smoke or gets too dark, it'll just harden in the bottom of the pan and taste like crap. So don't do that! Pour the caramel into a 9 inch cake pan and swirl around to coat the bottom and up the side a little bit.

For the custard, combine all ingredients except boiling water in a food processor or blender. Make sure the cream cheese is completely mixed in and that there aren't big chunks floating around.

Ok, here's where the book had the steps all wrong. Rather than pouring the custard into the pan, putting the pan in the larger pan, pouring the water and THEN moving it to the oven (trying to balance a full custard pan and a pan full of boiling water), do it this way:
Put the caramel lined pan into a larger roasting pan(I had a big rectangular cake pan I used) BEFORE you pour the custard in. Cover with aluminum foil, making sure there's a little lift in the center so it won't touch the custard at all. Poke holes in it and remove it from the pans.
Place the whole thing on the oven rack, pulled out as far as it will go and still hold weight. First, pour the custard into the caramel pan, and be careful! Next, pour the boiling water in the roasting pan, so it comes halfway up the side of the caramelly pan. Finally, cover with the foil and CAREFULLY slide the rack into the oven. It's full of boiling water and you do NOT want to slosh that on you.
Bake for 50-60 minutes. If the center is still liquidy and jiggles when you move the pan, it's not done. Leave in for 10 minute increments until the center appears firm. It can be a little bit jiggley, but not too much.
Remove the pan from the water bath and put it on a cooling rack. Once completely cool, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a least 5 hours, overnight if you can!
When you're ready to eat, run a knife around the edge, taking care not to slice into the custard. Put a platter or large plate upside down over it and flip the flan over onto it. Let the juices pool around the custard. Serve immediately!
This recipe says it serves 6-8, but if you only cut this into six slices, you will be hating yourself. It's far too rich for such huge slices! Not that I couldn't try to eat it all, but I think realistically it's in the 12-14 range.
But it's your flan! Enjoy!