In the days before Easter Mama always prepared one of her two signature dishes, flan. Hers was always beyond perfection. There were never any offensive bubble holes and, without fail, a generous amount of caramelized syrup. I’ve told y’all before…that woman could.not.cook. Dinners were a consistent disaster, everything was burned to a charcoal briquet level on one side. Her solution to that problem? Serve the dinner burn side down and no one will ever know. That, coupled with the fact that my little sister Pamela knocked her glass of milk over just about every night, made for stressful dinners round our dining room table. Mama just wasn’t into eating or cooking and assumed everyone else felt the same way. But her Sunday roasts and flans were spectacular triumphs. The dessert was always the traditional egg, milk and vanilla flan, her mother’s recipe. In recent years many have ventured into additional flavors such as mango, coconut, guava and other Caribbean tastes. Mama stuck with what she knew. I find a guava cream cheese flan is easier due to the changed instructions. For my mother’s traditional version the eggs are beaten until smooth but as lightly as possible so as not to create unsightly holes when the custard is baked. Whereas a flan with cream cheese can be made in a food processor or blender. The addition of the fruit and cream cheese produces a dessert much denser, almost a cheesecake in texture, and no holes. It’s rich and creamy, just perfect for a holiday. The fact that it needs serious chilling time in the refrigerator makes for a splendid do-ahead last course.
Guava Cream Cheese Flan
- 2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 14-ounce pack guava paste, cut into pieces
- 5 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- To a food processor or blender, I think the blender works best, add 1 cup sugar, milk, cream cheese and guava paste. Blend until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and pulse until the eggs are completely broken up and incorporated into the cream cheese mixture.
- Heat 1 cup of sugar in 10″ round cake pan melting slowly over medium heat. Do not stir as that will create sugar crystals and you want a smooth syrup. Gently swirl the melted sugar, covering the bottom and sides, until the syrup turns a golden brown.
- Place round cake pan in a bain marie, a bain marie being a pan with hot water for slow, even cooking. The water in the bain marie should come up about 3/4 of the side of the cake pan.
- Bake for about 50 minutes then remove from oven. Cool in bain marie. The flan will continue cooking in the hot water.
- When completely cool remove cake pan from water, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. I chill mine overnight and often a couple of days in advance of serving.
- When ready to serve have a serving dish or platter with a good-sized lip to catch the syrup that WILL come flying out. Holding the flan with one hand use the other hand to firmly rap the sides of the custard loosening it. You’ll see the flan come away from the sides of the baking pan. Cover the top of the flan with the platter and over your sink QUICKLY invert the custard. The flan should flop right onto the platter followed by the syrup. If you’re not accustomed to doing this, the transfer from baking pan to serving platter can be done hours in advance when you’re not pressed for time and no one is watching. Cover the flan with plastic wrap and place back in the refrigerator to stay cool until ready to serve.