Flan Clásico de Vanilla

March 2, 2009 8:06:34 AM PST
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 (1/2 x 2-inch) strips of lime zest (optional)
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract

Sprinkle the water over 3/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Brush down the side of the pan with a brush dipped in water to dissolve any sugar crystals. Reduce the heat to medium. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden in color; do not stir. Swirl the caramel in the saucepan gently until it becomes a deep straw color. Remove from the heat. Swirl the caramel until amber in color. Pour even amounts into each of six 6-ounce or four 8-ounce molds, tilting the molds to evenly cover the bottoms.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Combine the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, the condensed milk and lime zest in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Whisk the eggs and yolks in a bowl. Whisk in the warm milk mixture a little at a time. Stir in the vanilla extract. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a glass measuring cup.

Place the molds 1/2 inch apart in a deep baking pan. Pour 2 inches of hot water into the baking pan. Pour the custard mixture into the molds. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool in the hot water bath. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Run a sharp knife along the top edge of the molds to loosen the custard. Invert onto desert plates.

Serves 6 to 8

Contributed by Rick Bayless, Chef and Owner of Frontera Grill/Topolobampo in Chicago
Host of "Mexico?One Plate at a Time"
Thank you, Rick, from the Nielsen Family