This dessert is just a whole lot of goodness rolled into a fruit flavor custard (flan is just a variation of caramel custard, almost the same). Lately I have been watching a lot of recipes and food shows on TV and all the online mediums. I love watching Jamie Oliver, Paul Hollywood and my all-time favorite like thousands of others remains Nigella Lawson. This is the best time to binge watch on these shows, Nigella can really bring out the best in me any given time, her shows are like the ray of sunshine on a gloomy day, she can pep up anyone to cook up a storm even in the middle of the night.
Although I am an early bird, this weekend I watched Nigella Lawson till 3:00 am. You know how addictive her episodes are right? And well as for Nigella, she’s so mesmerizing herself! I see so much of myself in her. Like I can get up many times in the night and run to the refrigerator if I know there’s something already left from the dessert or a savory dish I cooked in the day. I am a beast when it comes to food. Often my dad finds me on the kitchen table at 2:30 am hogging on chocolates, coke floats, ice creams, Nutella rolls, or the lasagne I might have cooked. He tells me “I don’t see this habit going anytime soon. You have been eating like this since the time you were born”. And we exchange smiles and then I am back to eating more!
My inspiration for this Mango and mint flan came from a custard Nigella Lawson baked for a Christmas party. It was a caramel custard made exclusive by the addition of apples. I immediately knew the next thing I had to make was a flan, a variation of caramel custard, and instead of apples it had to be mangoes, my favorite fruit. I have relished caramel custard so many times, on several weekends with friends and other times with Dad who simply loves it. And now it’s the time for Flan!
Let’s learn a bit about the history of Flan:
What is a flan? Well, it’s a circular shaped dessert covered with a thin layer of melted caramel. We make our flan the old fashioned way thereby honoring this egg base custard that’s traveled centuries and continents making its way to Latin America via Spain in the 1500s.
It was the Romans who lay their hands on the very first flan and the idea originated from the surplus of eggs in the Roman empire. The Romans became inspired by the Greeks and learned their techniques to develop new egg-based recipes. these recipes were a combination of some delectable savory dishes and desserts. Even the name “flan” has been creatively developed from a lot of cross-territory European regions. It comes from the Old French word, “flaon,” from the Late Latin word, “fladon,” which is derived from the Old High German word “flado,”. And this originally means a flat cake.
It’s rather interesting to note that Flan didn’t develop as a dessert. Initially it was a savory dish served with meat and fish. In fact, the first flan is remembered as a pairing of eel with pepper.
The Romans are known to have created the sweet version of Flan which contained the only sweetener of that time- honey. And it was the Spanish who became true fans of the Flan and they thus gave it the perfect topping of melted caramel which added a beautiful dimension to the dessert.
As time went by, the Spaniards brought flan to Mexico during Spanish conquest and occupation. And flan became a truly beloved dish among Mexicans in all regions of the country thereby re-inventing into a whole lot of flavors. The Mexicans hold the Flan as dear as their flag. For them indulging in this dessert every day is not a sin but a ritual they hold in high regard. And the best thing about the Flan is that it has retained its beauty over the years remaining a gratifying combination of eggs, vanilla and caramel sauce that’s made people all over the world fall in love with its simplicity and the elegance of its touch.
In simple language, an egg and milk custard is poured in a round mold that’s been pre-coated with a thin layer of caramelized sugar. The mold is then tightly covered and steamed in an oven or stove. If oven steamed, the covered flan mold is placed in a pan of hot water that reaches halfway up the mold’s side. This is known as baño maria (water bath).
Once the flan is baked, it is cooled by placing it in a refrigerator before removing it from the mold. The flan is best served chilled.
Flan is today served in a whole lot of flavors and the Mexicans have taken it to another level. Some of the more popular flavor options include Mexican vanilla, orange, almond, chocolate, with pistachio being the most popular. Honey, cheese, Coconut, and coffee-flavored flan are also common and remain a favorite. Not just this, a topping of fruits as well gives a fresh pairing to the flan and some flans are even topped with strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries and relished by a large number of Flan lovers, not just in Mexico but the world over.
Addition of mint:
There’s nothing more refreshing in summers as mangoes and mint. That intoxicating aroma of fresh mint leaves is enough to uplift your dull mood and make you add those beautiful greens to your water or lemon soda and repair your worn-out body during the humid months. That pairing of mangoes and mint is a delicate yet exquisite pairing. They indeed go really well together and help in giving a recipe a sapid and pleasant touch.
You just need to be a little careful here about not adding too much mint as it might lead to a bitter taste. In case you don’t have mint, you can also add peppermint essence but don’t use both of them as that would kill the entire flavor of the flan. Also make sure you are using the best mangoes and the ripest ones. That makes the recipe get all its wilderness!
How to achieve a silky caramel layer:
Melting sugar leads to caramel and not many pay attention to the crystallization process here. Sugar tends to crystallize and it gives rise to uneven crystals if you make a dry caramel and add it to a recipe. What I am talking about doing here is creating a wet caramel that is silky, smooth, without any uneven crystallization and of course, gives you a picture-perfect layer on the flan as well.
For the wet caramel, just add a little water to the sugar while you melt it (see the proportion in the ingredients below). Or you can also cover the pan with a lid which leads to the formation of steam and eventually droplets of water get added to the sugar preventing it from excessive crystallization.
So what are you waiting for? Grab those juicy mangoes and the fresh mint leaves, and enjoy this worldly dessert this coming weekend. I promise not to tell if you have dessert before dinner…
A soft, tender custard with a topping of the sweet caramel sauce, this Mango and mint flan is pretty easy to make and tastes like a hell bomb. That silky smooth top blends beautifully with the cushiony inside giving you an appetizing dessert that anyone would fall for.
1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk – ½ can (200 ml)
250 ml normal milk
200 ml Heavy Cream (Amul Cream)
3 Eggs –
1 tsp Mango essence
1/2 cup Mango puree
2 tbsp Chopped mint leaves
Sugar – ½ cup
3 tbsp Water
- Take a pan and add sugar to it along with the water. Let the sugar melt on low heat. Make sure you do not stir. Let the sugar melt till it reaches a caramel color and then pour it gently into the final custard pan (you can use any cake pan for this). Make sure you hold the pan with hand gloves and spread the melted caramel evenly to all the sides so that the entire base is covered. Do this quickly as sugar thickens too fast.
- Now take a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients to it. Combine it all with the help of a beater or a spatula. Make sure it is well combined and creamy. Pour this into the pan over the caramel.
- Take a bigger pan and pour hot boiling water into it. Now place your final custard pan into it. The water should be halfway through the final custard pan. Preheat oven at 180 C for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let it cool down and pop it into the fridge overnight.
- The next day, push a sharp knife into the edges of the pan so that the sides of the flan are released. Place a plate on top and now turn it upside down. Tap a little on the pan and the flan will unmold without much hassle.
- Slice and serve.