As a longtime Californian, I’ve traveled across the border to Mexico quite often. Its happy people, history, culture and foods fascinate me. No doubt, my Italian cooking has been “influenced” by the exotic foods of Mexico.
For example, two weeks ago I wanted to make an Italian dessert known as Tiramisu, but I was out of ladyfinger cookies. Nothing could stop me from making something that tasted Tiramisu-ish! When I combined mascarpone cheese and espresso coffee with Mexican custard ingredients, this exquisite TiramiFlan was born!
Active prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 55 to 60 minutes
Inactive prep time: 4 hours or overnight refrigeration
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
One 14-ounce can condensed milk
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup strongly brewed espresso coffee, cooled
One 10-inch glass pie plate
One 13x13x4-inch square baking pan (pan sides must be at least 4 inches high)
8 to 10 strawberries, for garnish
MELT THE SUGAR & PREPARE THE PIE PLATE:
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Place sugar in a 12-inch, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat setting.
3. When sugar begins to melt, quickly change heat setting to low.
4. Lift, tilt and shake pan constantly to avoid blackening the sugar.
5. With a wooden spoon, gently stir the sugar – it will continue melting. When sugar turns amber throughout, immediately pour it into a glass pie plate.
6. Immediately lift and tilt plate until bottom and sides are coated with melted sugar; set aside.
PREPARE & BAKE THE FLAN:
1. Meanwhile, bring a full kettle of water to boil on medium heat. While waiting for water to boil, proceed to the next step.
2. In a stand mixer or in a 5-quart mixing bowl, beat together the condensed milk, Mascarpone cheese, eggs, vanilla and brewed espresso (on low speed); set aside.
3. Place the 13x13x4 square baking pan on an oven rack that is positioned in center of oven; pull the oven rack with the pan halfway out of oven.
4. Place the sugar-coated pie plate in the center of the square pan.
5. Immediately pour the liquid flan mixture into the pie plate.
6. Gently and carefully pour the boiling water into the square pan until water rises 2/3 of the way up sides of pie plate.
7. Carefully and slowly push the oven rack back inside oven.
8. Bake the flan 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, insert a pointed knife in center of flan. If knife come out clean, the flan is done. If not, cook an additional 10 minutes.
9. Carefully transfer the square pan with water and flan to kitchen counter to cool 30 to 40 minutes.
10. After 40 minutes, remove pie plate from water and set on counter.
COOLING THE FLAN:
1. When the flan is room temperature, refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR UNMOLDING THE FLAN:
1. After the flan has cooled 4 hours or overnight, pour 4 cups hot water in a 13x13x4 square baking pan or extra large glass bowl.
2. Gently place the flan pie plate in the hot water for 2 to 3 minutes. With a rounded knife or a spatula, gently loosen the sides of the flan from the plate.
3. Lift the plate out of the water and wiggle or shake it. When the flan has loosened from sides of plate, set it on a counter.
4. Place a large serving platter over top of the flan plate and, with one hand underneath flan plate and the other hand securely on top of the platter, make a quick flip.
5. At serving time, garnish the TiramiFlan with strawberries.
Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real