Monday, June 11, 2007

Lemon-Basil Flan

Marta of An Italian in the US has started a Fresh Produce of the Month event and this June, it's lemons. I was inspired to make a dessert with a simple syrup (sugar and water) scented with lemon zest and basil after spending a recent weekend in a small hotel with an accomplished chef in residence. His desserts were always complex and architectural with unusual ingredients. Lemon-basil syrup was one of these. In this flan recipe, I substitute the deep, rich flavor of burned sugar caramel with the bright flavors and colors of lemon and basil. Serves 12.

Ingredients for the custard:

1 cup sugar
4 cups milk
2 whole eggs plus 4 yolks
zest of 1 lemon
4 large basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400F. Place milk, sugar, lemon zest and basil leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a light simmer. Simmer for 7-8 minutes, being careful not to let the milk boil fully. Take off heat and reserve.

Ingredients for syrup:

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 large basil leaves
zest of 1/2 lemon

In a small saucepan, place the sugar, water, lemon zest and basil leaves. Bring to a boil and cook until all the sugar is dissolved and the boiling bubbles remain intact for a couple seconds before bursting. Music to simmer lemon-basil syrup by: The Lemonheads' 1992 hit single, "It's a Shame about Ray". This means the syrup is thick. Do not let the syrup brown at all. Take pan off heat, remove lemon zest and basil leaves and pour into the bottom of individual ramekins.

Preparing the flan:

Whisk the eggs and yolks together and slowly add the milk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture through a mesh strainer into each ramekin. Place ramekins in a large baking dish and fill the dish with warm water to 2/3 up the sides of the ramekins. Place into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the custard is firm to the touch and slightly browned.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. To serve: run a knife along the edges of the ramekins, invert onto plates, shake a bit to unmold. The thick syrup will have turned thin in the oven and will make a pool surrounding the flan, like a fortress with a moat.


Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Something wonderful has happened in our household...our 12-year old has taken a sudden shine to cooking and like most youngsters,she wants to bake or make dessert. Last evening she made me a gorgeous lemon sponge pudding because I just LOVE lemons, now you've given me a fabulous reason to try something else with the golden fruit..I am going to show her this recipe...I feel certain she will want to try making it. Ofcourse I will have to lend her more than a hand, but it looks delicious so it will be well worth it, thanks Susan!

6:49 PM  
Blogger ML said...

That looks like a really lovely, refreshing desert. I love the picture (wiping drool off my chin)

8:35 PM  
Blogger chemcookit said...

Hey Susan!
This looks wonderful.. I really want to try it now! I'm really impressed.
Thanks for taking part to the Fresh Produce of the month event!

9:56 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha! It serves 12. I don't believe it for a moment. It looks far too good to serve only twelve; it looks seconds-worthy!

1:14 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Lotus, Lucky you! A lemon sponge pudding-making 12-year-old. She sounds charming. The flan isn't too hard, though. Once it's in the oven, you can relax.

Hi ML, Thanks! It is nice to eat chilled things is the weather we're having.

Hi Marta, Thank you for hosting the event!

Hi Christina, You're so nice! After a big dinner party I always have a hard time getting people to finish dessert.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Beenzzz said...

What a delicious dessert. I love flan and I find this recipe intriguing!

5:09 AM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

that flan looks too lovely to eat!

3:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This impressed even my hard core "foodie"'s the perfect Summer dessert. Very chic on the plate, yet easy enough for a novice entertainer....

7:17 AM  

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