The Oscars, a recipe and a terrible pun

My friend Ilene hosts an Oscars' party every year. It's a lot of fun - witty people commenting on clothing, presenters and award winners. There are two contests at this party. You can win a cash prize (everyone chips in) if you guess the most Oscar winners. Or you can win the dubious Urn of Shame for your pot luck contribution. Everyone brings a dish related somehow to one of the films or people nominated.

I am both proud and dismayed to report that my partner Kevin Brooks and I won this year. We brought (may I have the envelope please) Natalie Port-man in Black Flan, a pun on Black Swan. A bottle of port wearing a tutu and tiara carefully nestled in cocoa dusted flan. You can see it for yourself.

I had feared flan would be really hard to make, but to my delight it was actually easy. I also think I'll continue dusting it with cocoa - the bitterness balances the sweetness quite nicely. The recipe I used included cream cheese, which makes it a bit more stable (appropriate since I was driving it across several towns and had a bottle of port stuck in the middle) but no less delectable. I hope you try this sometime. With or without the pun.

This recipe was inspired by several I found on the net.

3/4 c white sugar (I used an organic light turbinado sugar)
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
5 eggs
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
12 fluid ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract - next time I may try almond extract or maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. You really want to do this early, so it's hot and at a stable temperature.
  2. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, cook sugar, stirring, until thoroughly melted. This will burn you if it touches your skin and will melt plastic spoons, so please be careful. Pour the melted sugar a 10 inch round baking dish (I used a pie dish), tilting to coat bottom and sides; scrape the pan to get most of it out. Set aside. I then filled the pan with very hot water to soak until I was ready to clean it.
  3. In a large bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. I used an immersion blender. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Beat in condensed and evaporated milk, then vanilla until it's all smooth. Pour into caramel coated pan. Line a roasting pan or other larger pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place baking dish on the towel in the larger pan and place roasting pan on a middle oven rack. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. This is important as it's the hot water bath that makes the custard set.
  4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until center is just set - you can poke a clean butterknife into the flan midway between the center and side. If the knife comes out fairly clean it's done. Cool one hour on wire rack, then chill in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight (I chilled six hours and that was fine). To unmold, run a knife around edges of pan and invert on a larger plate. There will be quite a bit of sugar syrup and a layer of hard sugar on the pie-pan (soak and it will dissolve). I then dusted quite generously with dutch process cocoa.

(c) 2011 Laura S. Packer


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