Friday, August 24, 2012


If you look back a few years at the first post on the Cackle you will see that it involves Flan.  We had a small competition to see who made the best flan although at the time one of the "competitors" didn't bring in the flan until a few weeks after the actual competition date.  In any event, the whole notion of who makes the best flan and there should be a competition came around again.  Clearly there is some kind of obsession about flan!  When I mention flan I refer to the egg, milk and sugar creation - a sweet custard which is baked in a mold in the oven until set, when it may be served in the mold or turned out onto a plate for presentation. Some people refer to fruit tarts as fruit flans and in Britain flans are not necessarily sweet. That is not what we are referring to here.
Traditional "Havana" Flan

Dessert Flans at Wedding

Flan is apparently a standard type of dessert in Spain and Portugal and made the move to the New World colonial lands.  So one can expect to see flan in various incarnations in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia etc.  In fact people with heritages from these particular countries each were eager to participate in the flan off to put their best flan forward.  It was up to the rest of us to judge which was the best!  There was indeed some ugly chauvinism as to which country claims the best flan but we will not go there.

The competitors!
We had five mostly willing but somewhat coerced competitors. We ended up with five different looking flans.   Our first offering was actually a series of mini-flans.  It's unclear where the recipe came from but we know that he used real ground vanilla bean for the flavor and perhaps some herb.  The flavor was a bit more delicate and did not taste like the traditional custard. It was also not so sweet despite the sugar syrup that did not caramelize that went with it.  The mini-flans were presented on the plate with a sprig of fresh rosemary which everyone agreed was a very creative touch.
Vanilla Bean Flan with Rosemary Garnish

Preparing the flans

Competitor 1 has Latin roots

Well presented for sure!

The second flan also looked great. It was a large ring displayed on a decorative plate and was drenched with the caramelized sugar sauce that flans are known for. It was a good size which helped it to make an impressive entry.  The taste was what one expected however the consistency of this one was a bit coarser making it more custard like. To those who could have cared less it made not difference but the flan purists considered that a bit of a problem.
Competitor Number two with ring flan

Another beautiful job

Well complemented by the plate!
Flan number 3 was also visually very well received.  This was laid out nicely on a plate with a sliced strawberry as decor and a bit of whipped cream. Extra whipped cream was offered to go with a slice. This looked very authentic with the surface having the brown caramel color with also an adequate amount of the syrup. The taste was very good and not to heavy. The consistency was very smooth and we were told this was because the batter is whipped before it goes into the pan and then into the oven.
Proud o' her flan

A classic look!
Our fourth entry was formed in a copper mold.  This one was made with duck eggs and pomegranate was added for a different but nice touch.  Coming out of the mold something happened and the caramel syrup sort of stayed behind. This supposedly affected the presentation but contrary to the chef who made it it was not deliberately sabotaged by a competitor. The duck eggs gave it a stronger egg taste which was fine but the fruitiness of the pomegranate offset that nicely.  It wasn't that sweet tasting but this could have been due to the syrup not making it out onto the plate.
Comeptitor Four with Flan in a jello mold!

Prior to the revealing!

Pomegranate added but the caramel sauce didn't all come out
The last entry had a unique look. This is because our cook used Dulce de Leche (caramelized milk) instead of the regular milk to prepare the batter. This gave it a dark color and a stronger taste for sure.  There was not a lot of the syrup which was fine because the taste of the caramel in the flan itself more than compensated.
Competitor number 5 with a large flan

Darker than the others!

Made with Dulce de Leche
Table full of flans - let the tasting begin!
Everyone who came was initially given a plate with a taste of each of the flans.  After that they could co back and help themselves to extra samples. They were also given a ballot and asked to score each of them in two categories presentation and taste.  In each category evaluators could award up to three points and at the end the ballots were collected and the flan that had the most points in each category was deemed to have won that category.
The sampler for everyone!
And the results are.....for presentation there was a tie between our mini-flans - competitor 1 - with the rosemary and the traditional flan - competitor number 3 - with the strawberry garnish.  And the big award for the taste went to flan number 3 - again the one with the strawberry garnish and the available whipped cream. Apparently whipping up the batter is a winning strategy. Flan makers take notice!!  It also appears that our flan tasters were definitely inclined to the traditional!
Serious discussion!

Let's eat some flan!

We're making our choice!

What is that taste?

Let the voting begin!

All in good fun - but my flan ruled!

1 comment:

  1. I think the tasting should have been done blind--I mean blind-folded. No doubt the winner would have been someone else.