I have always been fascinated by the idea and silky golden appearance of flan, yet I can't recall ever seriously getting a chance to try it, that is until I made it! So while I can't say how it compares, I did receive a lot of positive feedback. It's a great recipe!
Cinnamon & Vanilla Flan
The trickiest part is really just caramelizing the sugar. You have to be careful not to burn the sugar, but if you leave the heat too low it simply won't caramelize and will just become a hard, white blob. But by far the coolest thing about it was watching the sugar literally melt. I know this might be obvious to some, but I really didn't expect it to actually do that! And Tyler (the food network host who created the recipe) specifically says not to stir but instead to swirl which actually works fantastically well, and if you try to stir you'll see what happens: not only does it all stick to the spoon, but it is almost impossible to work through the thick goop.
The caramelization occurred almost instantaneously. One second it was white, then another second it turns a beautiful amber color. Be sure to let it continue to caramelize for a minute or so after it starts to change color - this deepens the final color and flavor. When we made this for the fundraiser we didn't caramelize quite enough and it came out closer to yellow. Amber is so much more alluring.
I didn't have a vanilla bean but instead tossed in a bit of vanilla extract in the cream. The cinnamon flavor and vanilla were both almost unnoticable in the final product. Since I love cinnamon, I sprinkled on some mixed with cane sugar at the end. It changes the texture but really brings out the cinnamon!
All in all, it was delicious - rich, silky, and a nice level of sweet.
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