My friend Karen is staying with us this week, on one of her annual business trips to Hawaii. It’s always fun when she comes – we hang out at the beach, talk about food, and cook together (our significant others always reap the benefits). I made dinner last night because her flight came in later than usual, and we ended our meal of Vietnamese bun thit nuong (rice noodles with fresh bean sprouts, salad, cilantro, and barbecued lean pork loin) with flan.
I made this flan as an experiment, using fat-free milk and fat-free condensed milk. The end result (which surprised me because I had no recipe and was being a renegade cook) was perfectly custardy, creamy, and not cloyingly sweet or overly rich, as most flans are. The only fat comes from 3 eggs yolks, which equates to 2.6 grams of fat per serving! And as a bride-to-be with her wedding coming up in a few weeks, I knew she’d appreciate the thought!
Caramelized Cinnamon Flan
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg white
1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Special tools: 6 (6- oz) rammekin cups, or 8 smaller rammekins
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Lightly spray the insides of the rammekin cups with the cooking spray. Place the rammekins inside a tall-sided baking pan. Make a water bath by boiling water and filling the baking pan with the hot water, halfway up the outsides of the rammekins.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the sugar and the cinnamon. Continuously stir the sugar and cinnamon with a rubber spatula, until the sugar caramelizes to a light amber color and becomes syrupy. Working quickly, add about a tablespoon of the caramelized sugar to the bottom of each rammekin cup and tilt each cup so the syrup spreads throughout the bottom of the cup. It’ll start to harden and won’t spread to the outsides, but that’s okay because it will re-melt during baking.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients (eggs and milks) until throughly combined. Ladle out about 3/4 cup into each 6-oz rammekin, or less if you’re using more cups. Place the rammekins in the baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until the custards are set and are not wobbly when shaken. Take the rammekins out of the water bath and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, to cool, about 2 hours. (You can also eat one right away, which my husband and I did – we couldn’t resist!).
5. To serve, place a small plate on top of the rammekin. Flip both over, so that the rammekin is on top of the plate. Wait for a few seconds, gently tapping the rammekin. The flan will eventually slip out (the sugar slowly travels around the custard, freeing it from the rammekin).