Dulce De Leche Flan

From the Argentines I’ve canvassed (to this day I’ve never met an Argentine vegan or vegetarian – I’m not sure if they exist), I’ve found they primarily subsist on three different types of food: beef, pasta and dulce de leche. I can’t say in which order, and am not brave enough to decide. During one of my trips to Buenos Aires I was invited to an asado, a kind of Argentine barbecue meat orgy, at a friend’s house. After eating my body weight in beef they rolled out the most delicious medley of dulce de leche delicacies, sending me face first into the happiest food coma. Dulce de leche flan was probably the most pleasant of all and became an instant favourite on our menu.

MAKES 8

120g free-range egg yolks, at room

temperature

60g free-range egg whites, at room

temperature

500ml whole milk

500g dulce de leche, plus extra for

decorating

For the Coconut Crumble

50g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

50g plain white flour

50g desiccated coconut

50g sugar

For the Italian meringue

200g sugar

75ml water

100g free-range egg whites, at room

temperature

For the caramel

200g sugar

200ml water

The coconut crumble can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an

airtight container until required. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and line

a baking tray with baking parchment. Combine the ingredients in a small food

processor until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture

over the baking parchment and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch

closely so the mixture does not overbrown.

Tip the crumbs out of the baking tray and leave to cool completely. Crumble with

your fingers until fine crumbs form, then set aside until required.

The Italian meringue can be made up to two days in advance and stored in a

covered container in the fridge until required. Combine the sugar and water in

a saucepan with a thermometer attached over a medium heat, stirring until the

sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, without stirring, and as soon as it reaches the

boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, without stirring, or

until the syrup reaches 125°C.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are stiff enough

to hold a ribbon on the surface when the beaters are lifted. Slowly pour the hot

syrup into the egg whites, beating constantly, until a stiff meringue forms. Leave

to cool completely.

Next make the caramel for the base of the moulds. Combine the sugar with the

water in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring

to the boil without stirring, then continue to boil, swirling the pan occasionally,

until the caramel turns a rich golden brown. Watch very closely so it doesn’t burn.

Immediately divide the caramel among the bases of eight 125ml disposable foil

moulds, shaped like deep ramekins, then set aside.

When you are ready to bake the flans, preheat the oven to 130°C/Gas Mark ½

and arrange the moulds in a deep ovenproof container, such as a baking tray or

dish. Beat the egg yolks and whites together in a heatproof bowl and set aside.

Bring a kettle of water to the boil.

Combine the milk and dulce de leche in a heavy-based saucepan over a

medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid the dulce de leche catching on the

bottom of the pan and burning. Slowly pour the hot dulce de leche mixture over

the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into

a measuring jug to make it easier to fill the moulds.

Equally divide the dulce de leche mixture among the moulds. Pour enough

boiling water into the ovenproof container to come half way up the sides of the

moulds, then cover the top of the large container with kitchen foil. Bake for 30

minutes, or until the flans are set but still slightly wobbly in the centres. Remove

the flans from the water bath and set aside to cool completely.

To serve, smear the Italian meringue on the serving plates, then caramelise

using a blowtorch. Invert a flan on to each plate, then very gently press the

tip of a knife into the top of each foil mould, taking care not to press the knife

down into the flans or you will leave a cut mark that will give you a less-thanprofessional

presentation. Very gently lift off the foil moulds. Dot the extra dulce

de leche around the plates and sprinkle each flan with the coconut crumble.

Serve immediately.

 

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