Flan seems like an appropriate recipe for One and Only Son’s birthday, which is tomorrow, which begins the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, which is where I gave birth to said Son.
While living in Mexico, birthplace of One and Only Son, I discovered flan…an easy, delicious and quite impressive dessert. Over the years, I have collected quite a few versions of the basic flan recipe. They are equally yummy, with slight flavor variations that all seem to work perfectly, and guests always seem to love the rich, caramel flavor of a flan dessert. But no one has ever loved my flan more than Allan, who is not my son, although he looks so youthful he could be.
I met Allan and his partner Tab when we first moved back to Santa Barbara in 2000. They were close friends of our neighbors and we hit it off from day one. Allan and Tab live an amazingly interesting life, starting in the early days of Hollywood when Tab Hunter was not only a successful actor but also had a record single that beat Elvis on the charts! During the course of our friendship, Tab has written a best-selling book, Allan sold his Lucille Ball memorabilia collection to a museum and they have worked together on movies. They travel the world doing speaking engagements and appearances and tours. So we never run out of things to talk about. I have enjoyed many elegant, casual dinner parties in the garden of their perfectly gorgeous spanish house. And since Allan has the talent to cook the meals himself, I always offer to bring a dessert. At one of our first gatherings I brought flan with pomegranate seeds.
Flan, while delicious and decadent, is not the most beautiful dish all on it’s own. I always feel the need to add a little color to the finished dish before presentation. Usually, raspberries are good because the rich taste of the flan goes well with the tart raspberries. But when I was bringing the flan to Allan for the first time, it was nearly winter. I had finished the flan and went out to the garden to find a suitable garnish when I saw the pomegranate tree. Perfect! I brought one in, cracked it open and spilled some seeds and juice on the flan. That was almost a decade ago and Allan still asks me to bring the flan almost every time we visit. I use raspberries in the summer, but Allan’s favorite is pomegranate.
My pomegranates are ripening on the tree right now, a bit early this year. It must be time for a dinner with Allan and Tab.
“Enjoy your youth. You’ll never be younger than you are at this very moment.”
Pomegranate Flan for Allan
1 cup sugar
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (14oz) coconut milk
14 oz milk (1 3/4 cup)
1 fresh pomegranate OR 1 cup pomegranate juice
fresh mint to garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt sugar in pan over medium heat until it melts to liquid.
Swirl the pan over the heat until the liquid turns golden brown. Don’t overcook! As soon as it turns golden brown remove from heat or it will burn.
Pour the liquid from the pan into an 8-cup baking dish, tilting to cover the whole bottom before it turns hard. I like to use something large and flat like a deep dish pie pan or a 8” square cake pan.
Blend the rest of the ingredients in a blender and pour into the baking dish set into a larger pan.
Put both pans in oven and pour hot water in the larger pan until it comes about 1/2 way up the side of the flan pan. Be very careful when closing the oven not to spill the liquids.
Bake 1 hour. Carefully remove flan pan from oven, leaving the larger pan so the water doesn’t spill into the flan.
Cool and refrigerate. loosely covered, overnight.
Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Put a serving plate on top of the pan and quickly invert so flan turns onto plate with caramel sauce on top. There will be liquid syrup so use a large plate and hold it tight to the pan when turning.
Any extra caramel can be spooned on top of flan. Refrigerate again until serving.
Break open pomegranate over a bowl and pull off seeds, letting juice drip into bowl with seeds. Pick out white parts so that you are left with just the seeds and juice in a bowl. Remove flan from refrigerator and sprinkle a few tablespoons of pomegranates over the top and sides. Spoon some juice on the top. Garnish with a piece of fresh mint.
Note: If you can’t find a fresh pomegranate, pour 1 cup of pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and boil until reduced by half. Drizzle over flan.