Nov 18, 2010

Cream Cheese Flan

Flan is more versatile than one might think.  Many of us are familiar with the custardy, soft flans often served in Mexican restaurants.  What is special about this flan is the use of cream cheese.  The consistency is luscious and velvety smooth - and the cream cheese makes this flan similar to cheesecake that can also be flavored with holiday favorites like pumpkin or chocolate.
Caitlin: I had never made flan before this, so suffice to say I was a little nervous. Not to mention my husband is a flan connoisseur – no pressure or anything. However, everything came together so nicely that I wondered why I’ve never attempted it sooner. What I loved about the addition of cream cheese is that it added a velvety and almost cheesecake like consistency that I’ve never tasted in a flan before. I decided to leave out the coconut and add some chocolate and a touch of cinnamon instead – delicious!

Monica:  I am extremely picky when it comes to flan because I am not the biggest fan of custard, especially if it tastes & smells like eggs.  Let me tell you something, even if you think you don’t like flan, if you like cheesecake, then you will love this (I can almost guarantee it)!  I opted to add coconut to my flan and I have seen this done two ways – one way is to add coconut milk and the other is to add flaked coconut – I chose the flaked coconut because I liked the added texture. Try it, you might like it! 

Ingredient List
1 1/2 cups sugar
½  cup water
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk (from the can)
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½  tsp salt
**If making coconut flan use: ¼ cup flaked coconut
***If adding chocolate use: 3 oz. semisweet chocolate & a dash of cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

To make the caramel:
Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium-low heat or use a non-stick pan until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring (but you can swirl the pan if necessary) until the sugar turns an amber color. Be careful to watch the sugar so it doesn’t burn! Immediately pour caramel into 9x5 inch glass baking dish (or flan mold if you have one), coat bottom with caramel. Cool. It sets quickly.
To make the custard:
Beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, then add eggs. Add evaporated milk, vanilla, salt, and whole milk; beat and blend well.

**If using coconut, add at this point. 

***If using chocolate, melt chocolate in microwave or on the stove top. Once the chocolate is melted add cinnamon, pour into the flan mixture and combine.
Pour mixture into caramel dish. Place dish in 9x13 inch metal baking pan or roasting pan. Add enough hot water to pan about 2 inches up sides of dish – creating a water bath. Bake until knife comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Remove flan from water bath. Cool & once cool, refrigerate for 2 hours. You can also prepare & leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

To remove flan from mold, run a knife carefully around the edges of the pan to loosen the flan, be careful not to cut into the custard. Hold a serving platter (make sure it’s larger than the flan pan) over the top of the flan and invert. Gently shake the pan to release. It’s okay if the caramel drizzles around the sides of the flan, let it flow. Serve & enjoy!
Caitlin's Version

Monica's Version
You can add chocolate, coconut, or even pumpkin to your mixture. 

You can use coconut milk and cream of coconut instead of flaked coconut.

Caitlin: Well, A Hard Days Night was on television, and my little guy and I were watching it – he loves the Beatles.
Monica:  I chose songs that seemed to invoke the decadent, luscious flan:
     1) “Nessun Dorma”  Luciano Pavarotti
2)  "Let's Stay Together” Al Green
3)  “Hold On”  Neko Case
4)  “Move On Up”  Curtis Mayfield
     5)  “I’ll Stand By You”  The Pretenders

Drink of Choice
Caitlin: A nice hot Mexican champurrado, of course!!
Monica:  Honey Vanilla Chamomile – it is light, but the hint of  vanilla compliments the vanilla in the flan.

A Recipe to Remember?
Of course!  It will be a recipe we will be making, especially around the holidays.

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