Saturday, March 6, 2010

*Caramel Flan / Cream caramel

Call it Cream Caramel,Flan,pudding or anything,,it is one awesome desert just right amount of sweet (not too much not too less).This desert has different versions in different parts of world. Cream Caramel to the french, Flan to those in Spanish speaking countries and Leche flan in Philippines.I never tasted this desert until one potluck at my office from my co-worker with Philippine origin, thanks Gia for introducing me to this heavenly desert.When I say heavenly,I really mean it from bottom of my heart.So I tried this on Valentine's Day 2010.Until then,my only experience with them was salivating over them on foodie magazines and google images.To me, it always looked one of those desserts that were tricky and fiddly to make. I was always curious as to how the caramel didn’t stick to the moulds and how they managed to keep their shape after you popped them out. To my utter surprise both caramel and custard were very easy to make.I was nervous about removing them from the moulds.But after a mini hot water bath of 15 seconds,they easily inverted into the serving plate to swim in the pool of sticky caramel syrup.

So here is the recipe of this wonderful desert which I'm sure is simple enough for any one to make.
Ingredients for caramel:
  1. Water -- 1/2 cup
  2. Granular sugar --1 cup
Procedure for caramel:

  1. Before you start making caramel, keep your baking dishes ready and set them aside.
  2. Caramel is the most sensitive thing to do in the entire procedure,if you miss by few seconds the syrup becomes bitter. So watch out when you make the syrup.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a sauce pan and let it shimmer(watch carefully) until it just gets the amber colouring.
  4. Take it out of heat and pour to cover the bottom of the baking dish with caramel.Remember the carammalization happens even the pan is off stove hence don't delay pouring.

Ingredients for Flan :
The following amount will be just enough to fill a small oval baking dish and three small tart moulds.
  1. Egg Yolks - 5
  2. Whole Egg -2
  3. Evaporated milk - 1 can (370 ml)
  4. Sweetened Condensed milk - 1 can (250 ml)
  5. Vanilla essence - 1 tb sp
Procedure for Flan :

  1. Pre heat the oven.
  2. In a bowl pour 2 whole eggs, 5 egg yolks, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla essence and just give it a blend.I used electric hand blender. Be careful not to over beat, since we don't want a lots of air Incorporated in the egg mixture, just let the ingredients mix well with each other.
  3. This was the easy thing :) now pour the egg mixture in the baking dishes which were previously coated with caramel.
  4. And the next step is to bake the flan,we have to keep the baking dishes in a shallow pan with 1 inch deep hot water so that the flan doesn't bake hard and also gets the right texture.
  5. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and make some slits on it for the steam to escape.
Flan in glass bake ware :

Flan in Aluminium moulds :

  1. Bake it 250 degrees for half an hour.But you might need to check on them ,start after 15 minutes, peek into the foil (be very careful) and look in after 5 minutes.You shake the pan little bit and there should be no wimpling on the top,it should be settled but definitely not hard.
  2. After they come out of the oven we need to refrigerate them. It is a must at least for 3-4 hours.
  3. Take them out of the refrigerator, slide a knife around the edges to loosen the flan from the surface of the moulds and put it upside down in your serving platter. And you will be surprised to see the melted caramel on top of your flan making the sauce for your heavenly desert.
Note in the below pictures, how porous is the flan baked in aluminium moulds where as the flan baked in glass bake-ware has smooth outer surface.However the inside will be same in both cases.So doesn't matter if you bake in glass or aluminium mould.Just go ahead with whatever available at that moment.

Flan from Glass Bake-ware

Flan from Aluminium mould

Try this awesome desert and I would be more than happy to hear how it came out.Enjoy.... :)

* NewYork style Cheese cake

This Cheese cake is pretty famous and this one is one of the basic basic cheesecakes.I got the recipe from a book which I borrowed from Library and made few modifications. The modification that I made to the original recipe was to add 1 part ricotta cheese to two parts cream cheese. I thank the lady on the subway who gave me this tip when she saw me carrying two ready made graham cracker pie crust and as always got into talking about food and recipes :) She told 'my family always mixes 1part ricotta cheese with cream cheese and it comes out wonderful' and I truly agreed with her this statement when I tried on my own cheese cake. I made this cheese cake on valentine day. We always celebrate Valentines day with our friends and I thought of making this cheese cake. Try this wonderful cheese cake with few careful tips and it will be well appreciated.

So here goes the recipe :

Ingredients for the crust:

1. Graham cracker powder - 2 cups (You can buy the graham cracker and ground them too.This time I bough the ground Graham cracker from Superstore)
2. Unsalted butter(Melted) -1/4 cup

Ingredients for the cake batter:

1. Cream cheese - 500 gm(I used Philadelphia brand cream cheese-2 bricks)

2. Ricotta Cheese - 250 Gms

3. All purpose flour - 2 tb sp

4. Eggs - 4 whole eggs and 1 yolk

5. Sugar -1 cup

6.Vanilla essence - 1 tb spoon

7. Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange - 1-2 Tb spoon(below is the picture how I get the citrus fruit zest)

Ingredients for garnishing :

You can use virtually any fruit.

I used Raspberries,but you can go for strawberries,kiwi or cherry filling.Endless options here.

Procedure for Crust:

1. Mix the ground graham crackers with melted butter well and press to the bottom of the cheese cake frame.For baking a cheese cake you either need a spring form pan or a frame that is available in market by the name cheese cake mould.Basically it is a frame where the cake can be lifted top side up words after .In case of a pound cake we usually flip the cake p side down for taking it out of the mould which won't work well for cheese cakes,,for the obvious reason.

2. After pressing the graham cracker mixture to the bottom of the frame freeze it for 30 minutes.You can just keep it in freeze and start working on the cake batter by the time your base sets in freeze your batter will be ready.

Procedure for cake batter:

1. Before you start the process bring your ingredients to room temp.If the cream cheese in frozen then just microwave for 15 secs and that should work.

2. pre heat the oven at 350 degrees.

3. In a bowl add the cream cheese bricks , ricotta cheese and sugar and beat well for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the all purpose flour,orange zest, lemon zest and egg yolk to the cheese mixture and blend for 30


5. Then pour in the three whole eggs to the mixture and blend well for about 1 minute and now add in the vanilla flavour and blend for about 3 more minutes or until you get a smooth batter as shown in the picture.

6. Now take out the crust from freeze and pour in the batter in to the cake frame and smoothing the top a little bit.

7. Bake for about 10 minutes at 250 degree C .Reduce the heat to 100 degree C until the top is golden brown and the centre is almost set .This may take around 40-50 minutes.

8.Let it cool at least for 2 hours in the pan.Run the spatula around the cake frame, so that it will come out of the frame easily when it cools down completely.

9.Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

10.Garnish with some raspberries or strawberries or which ever fruits you like...and voila,,,there is your newyork style cheese cake.