Friday, June 27, 2008

Blueberry Vanilla Flan

Creme Caramel or Flan, both are the same, a sweetened egg custard with a caramel sauce. This recipe is an adaptation from an old Food Arts publication by Chef Ming Hsu of Ritz Carlton Chicago.

This recipe calls for condensed sweetened milk, which will result in a rich creamy dense texture, and one batch of this recipe will use 1 whole can of the milk and will yield 8-10 ramekins (3") depending on how much blueberries are used.
For an instructional YouTube video of this recipe CLICK HERE

Blueberry Vanilla Flan Recipe:
yields 8-10 servings

1/2 cup sugar
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean
4 eggs
2 cups blueberries

Caramelize the sugar:
Place 1/2 cup sugar and 2 T of water in a small stainless steal pot over medium hi heat.
Mix sugar and water.
Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the sides of the pan if any sugar spatters and sticks.
Keeping the sides of the pan free of sugar crystals will prevent crystallization of the caramel.
Crystallization is when sugar cannot achieve a liquid consistency as it candies. As soon as crystallization begins, pour in more water and start over or start over completely with another 1/2 cup of sugar. This will take much longer since the water added needs to be boiled out.
As it starts to turn color, turn the heat down bit by bit as it reaches amber color.
There is a lot of carryover cooking in the hot pot so have all the ramekins ready and very close.
As soon as it reaches a nice amber color, quickly pour about 1 T into each ramekin and swirl the caramel around to cover the bottoms of the ramekin.

Make the Custard:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Place the condensed milk and the whole milk into a pot.
Scrap the vanilla bean and add the pod and beans into the milk and bring to a simmer.
Stir the milk to prevent burning on the bottom.
Allow milk to sit for about 10 minutes (optional).
Beat the eggs in a bowl and temper in the hot milk.
Temper: pouring very hot liquid into eggs will cook the eggs and caused cuddling. To avoid this, temper in the hot liquid by whisking the eggs continuously as the liquid is poured in a slow stream for about 1/3 of the liquide and faster pour there after. It depends on the heat of the liquid.
Discard vanilla bean pod and strain at this point if desired for a smoother texture.
Place blueberries into each ramekin and top off with the custard.
Custards do not rise so it can be filled up to the top, with a little jiggle room to avoid spillage.

Bake custards in a water bath in 300 degree oven:
The water bath assures a slow baking since water's temperature maxes out at 212.
Fill the water about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up.

Serve chilled.
Run a thin knife or spatula along the side of the ramekin to loosen the custard from the sides. Flip over onto plate and serve.
Alternative options:
Don't have vanilla beans, sub with 1 t vanilla extract, but add it at the end.
Coffee Flan, steep ground coffee in the milk, strain out the coffee grinds and proceed with recipe.
Mix in different seasonal fruit.

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