Sometimes (no, often) I want dessert, but I don't want to have to try too much. If I have no time on my hands, I'll make the little chocolate things. But if I have time to allow a dessert chill in the refrigerator for half the day, I make this truly mindless flan. I've adapted it from the flan recipe in Nigella Express--I'm kind of on a Nigella kick this week--and it's even easier and faster to make as a result. And you get this lovely sweet custard topped with caramel, enough to feed two people for three days.
- 12 oz. can evaporated milk
- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 t vanilla
- store-bought caramel ice cream sauce that's really thick, such as Mrs. Richardson's. It needs to be so sticky and solid that you can't really pour it when it's cold.
- hot water from a kettle if you're classy, from the tap if you just don't care
Preheat oven to 325.
OK, dig this: put the milks, the eggs, and the vanilla into a blender. Blend. Boom. You're 90% done.
Find a pie plate. Spoon about 1/4 cup of caramel into the pie plate and spread it around with the back of a spoon. You want a relatively even layer, but don't beat yourself up about it. Also spread a little caramel up the sides of the pie pan. I've never really measured this, honestly. Just enough so you can't see the pan shining through the caramel, if you know what I mean, and that might be a bit more than 1/4 cup, depending on your pan.
Place the pie pan in a roasting pan--it's got to be bigger than your pie pan, obviously. My roasting pan can't do this, so instead I use a huge, deep dish Chicago pizza pan. Pour the contents of the blender over the caramel; stop about 1/4 of an inch short of the top of the pie pan. If this means wasting a little bit of the flan, then I'm sorry, you might be out 25 cents. Fill the roasting pan/whatever with about an inch of hot water. Carefully place the whole shebang in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. The top should look yellow-gold and appear to be set.
Have fun taking it out of the oven and congratulate yourself on your bravery and coordination when you successfully do so. Remove the pie pan from the water and let it cool on a rack until room-temperature or at least just kind of warm. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or longer (although I've successfully eaten it after 3 hours, but it wasn't as firm).
Find a plate that's bigger than your pie pan. Run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the flan. Put the plate upside down on top of the pie pan and invert. It may take a few bangs, and the warmth of your hands on the pan seems to help, but soon enough the flan will pop out onto the plate, and it will be covered with pretty, runny caramel. Heck yeah. Drizzle the caramel that remains in the pan onto the flan (why not?). Cut the flan into remarkably clean, pie-shaped wedges and smile with greed and satisfaction.
Note: the weird mini-slice next to the regular slice pictured above was a result of Jeff cutting the flan and deciding we both needed and additional mini-slice. And that is why I love this man.
But the man below is kind of scary, in a James Bond villain way: