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Flan makes a delightfully elegant summer dessert without all the effort and expenses you would normally incur in the creation of something way more complicated but with no guarantee of turning out the way you want it. Flan spares you the pain of spending hours planning, baking and assembling; you can actually just whip it all together well in advance and whip it out at the very last moment and still expect a pat on the back for your culinary flair. Taken from Kitchme, this Spanish flan ditches the regular milk and eggs custard to derive its rich, velvety smooth texture from a mixture of condensed and evaporated milks. My tin of condensed milk had an almost dulce de leche consistency, which added to the pronounced caramel flavour I was hoping for in this simple yet ‘sophisticated’ dessert.

SPANISH FLAN

Ingredients:

1 cup white granulated sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (12 fluid ounce) evaporated milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

  • Melt the sugar in the pan until liquefied and golden in color. Be very careful when handling syrup.

  • Pour hot syrup into a 9 inch round glass baking dish, turning to evenly coat the bottom and sides.

  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla until smooth.

  • Pour egg mixture into the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in oven for 60 minutes.

  • Let cool completely. To serve, carefully invert onto serving plate with edges when completely cool.

Spanish Flan

Rice pudding is a well known comfort food all over the world. We know it here as ‘kheer‘, a creamy milk-based dessert from India that gets prepared and eaten on auspicious occasions [or anytime you have some left over or overcooked rice that needs to be converted into something better and sweeter!] Mexico also has its own version of rice pudding which combines condensed milk and cinnamon to give arroz con leche, a thick rice pudding, though similar types of this dessert are popular throughout Central and South America with slight regional variations.

The recipe, taken from Mommy’s Home Cooking, is sweet enough without the addition of sugar I believe. My can of condensed milk has been waiting for so long in the kitchen drawer that it turned into dulce de leche on its own helped by the blazing summer we have been experiencing lately. The only way I could enjoy my arroz con leche was to let it chill for a couple of hours before topping it off with a dash of powdered cinnamon and nutmeg.

ARROZ CON LECHE

Ingredients:

5 cup whole milk, warm

1 to 2 cinnamon sticks

2 strips of lime zest

1 pinch of kitchen salt

1 cup long grain white rice

1/2 can (196g) condensed milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Ground cinnamon, to taste

Method:

  • Heat, in a medium-size heavy saucepan, over medium heat 3 cups of milk and cinnamon stick.

  • Add lime zest, and salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered. When it starts to boil reduce the heat to low.

  • Add the rice and cook for 10 to 15 more minutes or until milk is almost completely evaporated.

  • Continue adding milk, stirring constantly, 1/2 a cup at the time, until it is absorbed by the rice.

  • With the last 1/2 cup of milk, add condensed milk and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened.

  • Be aware that as the rice cools it thickens. Turn off the heat. Add butter and stir to incorporate.

  • If the cooled pudding is too thick, enough add heavy cream to achieve the desired consistency.

  • Let cool uncovered. Serve warm or cold sprinkled with ground cinnamon to taste. Serves 6-8.

Arroz con Leche

Making edible gifts is definitely my favourite activity during Christmas. After the much loved Pfeffernüsse last week, I could not keep myself away from the wide array of Christmas recipes I have collected over years. Deliciously illustrated pages depicting Christmas themed cookies, brownies, cupcakes and candy from my innumerable cookbooks made it impossibly difficult to settle on a single baking project. In the end, I decided to go ahead with what I already had in my kitchen cupboard since my Christmas shopping would invariably include lots of new exotic ingredients from gourmet shops. I unfortunately happen to be an impulsive shopper as most of the stuff I buy on whim finally find themselves spending weeks to months unattended till I remember to invest them into a worthy recipe.

A big jar of Nutella always holds the place of pride on my kitchen shelf along with other baking essentials like my bottle of golden syrup and my stash of vanilla pods from Madagascar. Nutella is a life-saving ingredient, you can use it as an emergency filling for any sweet bakes or even as frosting if you need a last-minute topping everyone will love. When I found this gorgeous set of pictures featuring Nutella truffles, dipped in dark chocolate and dusted with golden ‘hazelnut dust’ on DeliciouslyYum, I instantly bookmarked them as the chocolate candy I would blog about this Christmas.

NUTELLA TRUFFLES

Ingredients:

14 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread/ Nutella

1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature

1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil, optional

Roasted, chopped hazelnuts for sprinkling

Method:

  • Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside. Place 10 ounces of the chocolate into a medium bowl.
  • Using the microwave or stove, heat up heavy cream until hot, but not boiling. Pour over the chocolate.

  • Let stand for 1-2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir mixture until combined and chocolate is melted.
  • Stir in chocolate hazelnut spread and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until it is set.

  • With the help of a small scoop (about 1 teaspoon), scoop out the chocolate mixture and form into balls.
  • Place the chocolate balls onto prepared cookie sheet and place them in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Heat remaining chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl until melted. Add oil, if using, and stir to combine.
  • Remove the firm chocolate balls from the freezer and place one ball at a time into the melted chocolate.

  • Using a fork, evenly coat each ball with the melted chocolate and remove the truffle from the chocolate.
  • Place on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining balls. Pour leftover chocolate in a small Ziploc bag.

  • Cut off one corner and pipe melted chocolate on top and finish with hazelnuts. Return truffles to freezer.
  • Leave for 15 minutes until well set. Keeps up to 7 days stored in the fridge or up to 4 weeks in the freezer.

While my truffle balls were setting in the fridge, waiting to be packaged in their individual wrappers, I found time for another candy I have been longing to make ever since I saw the recipe on a tin of Nestle condensed milk. Luckily, the online recipe on The Pretty Blog comes as close to the real thing as I can remember. Super sweet, sticky cubes of vanilla fudge make a nice addition to any Christmas hamper and are quite inexpensive if you need to make large batches. The most important step is achieve the perfect fudge-like texture is to beat it well after it starts to caramelize. Before it sets completely, you can fold in any topping of your choice including chocolate chips, cranberries, apricots, chopped nuts or a combination of any of these but my favorite remains a sprinkling of our local coarse sea salt.

VANILLA FUDGE

Ingredients:

500 ml (2cups) granulated sugar

75 ml (5 tablespoons) cold water

25 ml (5 teaspoons) golden syrup

60 g unsalted butter, softened

1 can (390g) condensed milk

5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Method:

  • Put sugar and water into a large heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

  • Add the butter and syrup and stir until the butter has melted. Add the condensed milk and stir it.

  • Continue stirring till it comes to the boil. Boil very slowly on low heat, stirring every minute or 2.

  • Boil until soft ball stage, mixture will darken to a deep caramel colour and will form sugar crystals.

  • Remove mixture from the stove, add the vanilla extract and seeds and beat with a wooden spoon.

  • Beating the fudge for about 5 to 10 minutes will ensure a great texture when it is cools completely.

  • Pour the hot fudge into a 22 x 22 cm square pan lightly greased with butter and level the surface.

  • Leave it to cool completely in pan. Cut into squares when cold and store in an air-tight container.

Homemade Christmas Candy

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