For today is Cinco de Mayo!
We don’t know what it means, but we know it’s an excuse to suck down margaritas at the Tex-Mex place down the street. Quoth Brian, “This is when we celebrate Mexico winning its independence from Canada, right?” RIGHT!
So in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I ate a quesadilla with some guac and put together a classic flan garnished with pineapple and goat cheese from Dulce: Desserts in the Latin-American Tradition.
Well, kind of.
I started out making the caramel for the bottom, a mixture of sugar and water with a hint of lime juice. I tend to scorch caramel and then try and convince myself that I really LIKE the burnt flavor, so I was extra vigilant with this batch.
And I watched.
And I watched. When it was barely amber, I pulled it off the heat; it darkened in the pot a bit more to the perfect shade of golden brown. Success! Surely, the Cinco de Mayo gods are on my side.
There ARE Cinco de Mayo gods, right? I mean, there’s no defeating Canada without a good pantheon on your side, I’m sure.
While the caramel cooled a bit, I started the flan proper: milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and a cinnamon stick went into a pot. I was directed to bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly; despite not really understanding the need for the constant whisking and wishing I could just sit down, I did it. I brought the mixture to a boil, then put it into an ice bath for some rapid cooling action.
Using a ladle that I don’t think was actually heatpoof, I portioned the caramel into some ramekins.
I only used about half of what I made (and I only made half a recipe), so there’s going to be lots more caramel in my future. Most likely, I’ll be too lazy to make more flan and will just toss some fruit with it and serve it over ice cream, which I am NEVER too lazy to make. I see nothing wrong with this.
Next, the milk and cream mixture met up with some eggs. I whisked everything together and strained out those weird little eggy bits that connect the white to the yolk. I’m sure there’s a name for that piece of egg, and I’m equally sure I’m not going to look it up right now. I’m also sure that one or more of you knows, and will tell me. You’re smart that way.
A dish towel went into the bottom of the baking dish so the ramekins wouldn’t slide around in their bain marie. Each dish got a dose of custard, then I put the baking dish into the oven and added boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. I set the oven timer and flopped down on the couch to wait and play Bejeweled, which I admit is a stupid game but is highly addictive, because it’s so easy it makes me feel smart.
And I waited.
And I waited.
And I waited.
For you see, these little flans DID NOT want to cook, Cinco de Mayo be damned. At the half-hour mark, the amount of time indicated in the book, they were still almost completely liquified. Twenty minutes later, still on the wrong side of jiggly. Finally, over a full hour after they went into the oven, I deemed them set enough to come out. Frankly, they probably could have stood another five or ten minutes, but my patience only wears so thin.
Sadly, this probably means that I will not be up late enough to be able to unmold these tonight; it didn’t help that my brain totally skipped the part of the instructions that said “Cool for at least four hours” when first reading the recipe.
Really, though, I should be thankful, because this means the joy of Cinco de Mayo will extend to tomorrow, when the flan is actually consumed. Which I think means I should be allowed to drink margaritas at work. Seems reasonable to me.
To be continued!