Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Eggs

Eggs are cheap, cheap, cheap (that's said in a chicken's voice) right now.  Easter brings dozens of eggs to the grocery store and coupons in the paper to buy them so I can't resist purchasing a couple of dozen.  Using all of these eggs for two can be difficult.  Hard boil a few for egg salad sandwiches or deviled eggs, scramble a few for Sunday breakfast, and then what? 

Dessert!!  Custards, creme brulees, or this new favorite, flan.  Flan is a Spanish custard dish and it is very similar to the egg custard I usually make.  The difference is that it is cooked very slowly and in a water bath so it's texture is so smooth and delicate. Quite amazing.  What I love about this particular recipe is that there is no stove top cooking first.  Other custard recipes have required heating the milk first and separating eggs, risking curdling of the hot egg mixture.  This one is easy and quick and the results are spectacular. The most recent April edition Bon Appetit magazine is the source of this recipe and as usual, it's a good one.

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Six 4-ounce ramekins
Preheat oven to 325°. Stir 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp. water in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is medium-dark amber, 5–6 minutes. Working quickly, divide caramel among ramekins, coating bottoms evenly. Let cool until hard.
Gently whisk remaining 1/3 cup sugar and eggs in a medium bowl. Add cream, half-and-half, and vanilla; gently whisk to combine (do not aerate). Let sit until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium pitcher to eliminate air pockets.

Place ramekins in a roasting pan lined with a kitchen towel; place pan on a large rimmed baking sheet. Divide custard among ramekins. Pour hot water into roasting pan to reach a little more than halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover pan with foil, crimping to seal. Carefully transfer to oven; cook for 25 minutes. Rotate pan. Cook until custard is set but center still jiggles when dish is nudged, 20–25 minutes longer.
Uncover roasting pan. Let flan cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove ramekins and let cool completely. Cover with plastic; chill overnight.

Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Unmold flans onto plates.

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