Monday, March 14, 2011

Day Seventy-Three: If Pudding and Gelatin Had a Baby

I tried making a homemade flan once. My husband wanted it, so I set out to make it. But I was partway through the recipe before realizing that I was low on milk, and the evaporated milk in my cupboard was expired. So I substituted vanilla coffee creamer, cut with what nonfat milk I had. The husband loved it, though he admitted it was remarkably rich. Okay, maybe loved is an overstatement. But he refused to hurt my feelings. Personally, I wouldn't touch the stuff.

So this time, when making flan, I trusted the Jell-O corporation. I didn't want to end up with vanilla coffee creamer on my face. I followed the directions almost exactly (I again used some milky substitutions--one quarter cup heavy cream and one and three quarters cups of 2%, to attempt simulated whole milk) but this time, with positive results. Those results being, of course, flan.

It's not the flavor that bothers me about flan. It has caramel on top, for goodness' sake--I would probably eat fish eyes if they had caramel on top (please don't hold me to that--I'm going for comedic hyperbole here). The thing is, flan is almost pudding, but it's not. It's somewhat custardy, but then it's also gelatinous. Like if pudding and gelatin had a baby. The thing is, if it were just custard with caramel on top, it wouldn't hold its shape--but it would feel a heckuva lot better on the tongue. But it's a rather ancient dish. Flan recipes can be dated back to ancient Rome, though it was originally a savory dish (eel flan, anyone?) which was probably more akin to aspic than to pudding (boiled calf's foot provides a good amount of gelatin, but would probably not be a first choice for dessert).

Overall, flan is okay. If I go to your house for dinner and it's your dessert of choice, I'll eat it. I might even like it. But if you're charged with bringing dessert to a surprise party in my honor, go for something less jiggly, please.

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