OH YES. The holidays are for eating rich, custard-y things. I feel like I say the same thing about summer (hello, old friend ice cream), but the custards of the holidays have warming spices. And without warming spices, we would surely freeze to death. Did you catch that?: If you don’t eat this gingerbread flan, you might die. Dessert = justified.
I grew up around a lot of flan in Texas; I think it’s on every Tex-Mex restaurant dessert menu, but I never reached for it. I’ve never really been a big egg person. My Mom made me fall in love with hard boiled eggs drizzled with butter over toast a few years ago, but other than that, you won’t find me eating too many egg-centric things. Yes, the yolk porn trend in the foodie world is totally lost on me. So is the ‘put an egg on it’ phase. I’d rather have fried tofu on top, thanks.
This blog teaches me new things all the time, and one of them is to try desserts that I have previously avoided for fear of their texture. I used to avoid bread pudding because of the eggs, but then I created a bread pudding recipe for my cookbook that is so good, I ate both servings before the photo shoot was even over (oops).
Anyway, I used to assume that avoiding egg-y desserts was just another way to keep the calories in check (or save the calories for lemon bars), so what’s the harm? Answer: ALL THE HARM. Life is short. I must try every dessert out there. If a pastry chef dreamed it up, I want a bite or three. Every time I make caramel, my mind wanders to the French kitchen in which the various stages of sugar crystallization were mapped out. How many chefs did it take to realize the exact temperature of the soft ball stage of sugar? Then, the hard-crack phase? I’m endlessly fascinated by sugar. If you’re in my life, ‘Sugar’ is my common pet name for you.
The life-saving properties of this flan include cinnamon, ginger cloves and nutmeg, but also: molasses. It’s the only sweetener in the actual custard part, and I love its slightly bitter bite. The caramel that pours out on top of the dessert after a quick rest in the fridge overnight is more than enough sweetness for me. If you want it super sweet, substitute brown sugar for the molasses.