One of the desserts I enjoy at this time is a creme caramel, something a little different than the classic cake or cookies. Not a cold dessert like ice cream that you need in the summer, not warm like you need in the winter – just in-between, like spring!
1/3 cup sugar
2 medium oranges, lemons, or limes
3 cups half-and-half or light cream
2 3- inch cinnamon sticks, broken up
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Raspberry Sauce or Hot Chocolate Sauce
Whipped Cream (optional)
Fresh raspberries (optional
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Caramelize sugar by cooking it over medium-high heat in a heavy medium skillet, until the sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally. Do not stir. As the sugar starts to melt, reduce the heat to low and cook about 5 more minutes or until all of the sugar melts and is golden brown, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon.
2. Remove skillet from heat and immediately pour caramelized sugar into a 9-inch flan pan (or divide caramelized sugar among six 6-ounce custard cups). Working quickly, rotate pan (or cups) so sugar coats the bottom as evenly as possible. Cool.
3. In the meantime, prepare the custard. Remove the peel from the oranges, lemons, or limes with a vegetable peeler.
4. Heat the half-and-half, citrus peel, and cinnamon sticks in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or just until tiny bubbles form around the edge. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl until mixed. Gradually whisk in the 2/3 cup sugar; set aside.
5. Strain half-and-half mixture; discard citrus strips and cinnamon pieces. Slowly stir the hot half-and-half into the egg mixture, then stir in the vanilla.
6. Place prepared flan pan (or custard cups) in a shallow roasting pan on an oven rack. Pour egg mixture into the prepared pan (or custard cups). Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan baking pan around the flan pan (or custard cups) to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Bake in oven about 45 minutes for 9-inch pan (35 minutes for custard cups) or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 1 hour; cover and chill 2 to 24 hours.
7. To serve, unmold flan by loosening edges with a knife. Slip the end of knife down sides of pan to let in air. Carefully invert a serving platter over pan (or a dessert plate over custard cup); turn dishes over together to release custard. Spoon any caramelized sugar that remains in pan on top. Serve with Raspberry Sauce or Hot Chocolate Sauce. If you like, garnish with whipped cream, fresh fruit and/or edible flowers.
Serves 6. Enjoy!
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