Rosie has a friend who recently had a birthday. Now whenever I make something for somebody's birthday, I've always got myself in mind. Forget about getting a whole cake. You're getting cupcakes or some form of deliciousness that lends itself to numerous forms. In other words, I'll be having whatever you're having. So I decided on caramel flans.
Caramel Flan With Spun Sugar
6 1-cup ramekins
9 TB sugar
6 TB water
1 cup sugar
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup skim milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 whole eggs
6 egg yolks
For the caramel:
In a small sauce pan, combine 9 TB sugar and 6 TB water. Bring to a boil over medium low heat, without stirring, until the mixture turns a golden brown syrup.
Divide equal amounts of caramel syrup into each of the ramekins, rotating the ramekins until the sides are coated halfway up.
I let the ramekins sit in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish filled with hot water, to make it easier to swirl the caramel in. If the ramekins are cold, you'll have a hard time, since the caramel hardens quickly upon hitting the cold ramekins and you will need extra hands and you must work faster.
For the flan:
Pour milk and cream into a saucepan. Scrape the vanilla bean and add both seeds and beans to the mixture. Place over low heat until small bubbles appear along the edges of the pan. Do not boil Remove bean.
Heat oven to 300°.
Beat together eggs, yolks, and 1 cup sugar until pale and foamy. Add the hot cream mixture slowly and gradually, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Set ramekins into 9 x 13-inch baking dish and fill.
Add boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. And it's always easier to do this AFTER you've put the baking dish in the oven.
Bake custards until set, about 55 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until well chilled.
Run a sharp, thin knife inside each ramekin and invert onto plates.
For the Spun Sugar:
9 TB sugar
6 TB water
Make the same caramel you did before, but when you take it off the heat, it needs to cool a tad. Dip a fork in it and swirl the tines over the flans. You can use your fingers to pull the caramel and drape decoratively over the flans. This is the fun part!
Let's start on the caramel first.
That's the color you want.
Like I said, you have to work quickly, even when the ramekins are already warmed. On the last ramekin I did, top far right, the caramel had already cooled too much so it didn't pour well. Not to worry, when you cook it, it will spread out.
Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla beans.
Add to the cream and milk mixture and heat until just bubbling on the edges.
Whip eggs and sugar until light and foamy.
Strain milk and cream mixture into eggs.
Ladle into ramekins and bake. Turn halfway through and tent with foil if necessary.
Add the spun sugar.
It's quite musical, is it not?