Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recipe: Gingerbread Flan

This is a recipe of my own devising. I was first inspired by a guest post on The Pioneer Woman's blog - the post was for pumpkin leche flan. First I had to get ramekins, so I asked for some for Christmas (and got them, thanks to my family!). (Another food blogger inspired that request - I asked for the ones that Deb recommended.)

But now it's January, and I'm a little bit over pumpkin. Don't get me wrong - I'm still a fool for it, but I've had a goodly amount of it lately. I tried to think what might be wintery, but still good with the carmel that goes with flan, and decided that gingerbread flan sounded intruiging!

Ingredients, and recipe creation.

So, I searched for gingerbread flan recipes. I didn't get a lot of hits, but this one seemed to have a good spice mixture, so I cribbed that part of the recipe. Finally, I referenced the Joy of Cooking to get their take on flan, and to use for the carmel sauce when I realized I didn't have corn syrup and I wanted to get started. I also wanted to make a bit more filling and a bit more sauce, so I used the Joy of Cooking to help me scale the recipe up just a teeny bit. I also decided to use their slightly-lower-temp & longer-time baking instructions.

So here we go!  

Gingerbread flan

 - Set out 8 small (6-ounce) ramekins.
 - Put a full kettle of water on to boil (lower to a simmer if it's boiling before you need it)
 - Set out a roasting pan large enough to hold all the ramekins; line it with a towel.
 - Remove extra oven racks; leave one at the lowest level (I just moved my other rack to the top slot)
 - Preheat oven to 325.

For the sauce, which gets poured into the bottom of the ramekins:
1 c sugar
1/4 c + 1 T water

Combine the sugar & water in a small pot. Do not stir - turn the burner to medium high and swirl the ingredients occasionally. You want to make sure the water & sugar are mixed well before they start boiling. It will boil merrily along for at least 10-15 minutes (on my dinky stove, at least).

Look at that lovely color! 
I could have used a wet brush to moosh the sugar on the side back into the syrup.

Eventually it will turn golden in color - keep an eye on it, and when it's a nice amber tone, remove it from the heat and carefully pour it into the ramekins (have them on your stove or some other nearby and easy-to-clean surface). Let the carmel harden.

Ramekins with carmel.

While the sauce is boiling away, in a large bowl combine:
4 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used my own!)

1 T molasses (I used blackstrap)
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

You can use a whisk to start combining these ingredients, but I was most successful with my beloved immersion blender. Combine thoroughly, with a minimum of frothing. Then strain the ingredients at least 3 times, alternating between two bowls. You want to remove any bubbles or other lumps. (This technique is from the pumpkin leche flan recipe, and I don't know that it's strictly necessary, but I figured it couldn't hurt.)

Triple-filtered - because I am thorough, or gullible.

By now the carmel in the ramekins should be hardened. Carefully pour the liquid mixture into the ramekins, filling them most of the way but NOT to the top. (I noticed some cracking noises at about this point - I think the carmel was cracking. I don't know what to make of that, but I think it's okay.)

Cover each ramekin tightly with foil. Set them in the towel-lined roasting pan (I gather that the towel helps keep the contents from cooking too fast; I didn't have the nerve to skip that step!). Set the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour the water from your kettle into the pan. Fill it with water so that the ramekins are half immersed.

Ready for the hot water, and then the oven.

Bake at 325 for 45-60 minutes, until they jiggle only slightly. They will be HOT - I used tongs to handle the ramekins. If you have canning equipment, jar tongs might work well.

Cool on a rack for a while, then in the fridge for 2-48 hours. Serve by inverting onto a plate - note that the idea is that the carmel topping will now be a bit saucy, so be sure to use a plate that has an edge, or you'll risk losing the sauce (and making a mess of your tablecloth).

I made a small sample ramekin for me to test later; the rest are for a dinner on Friday night. This is the first flan I ever made; it required concentration but didn't feel difficult in any way. Stay tuned for my review!


  1. that sounds awesome! i've made a fantastic chocolate flan before (from a rick bayless cookbook, maybe?), but i love the idea of gingerbread flan! isn't the partially-melted-still-partially-cruncy caramel on top divine? it's my favorite part.

  2. Meghan, I was so sad - most of the carmelized sugar stayed in the ramekin!

  3. oh no! i'll have to ask my mom what we do to make it come out. she has the cookbook at her house. i'll let you know!