I love fancy food — food that makes me smile, do a happy dance, and has an infectious spirit — I push my creative scale to produce beautiful and memorable food.
When I’m feeling uninspired — like every single waking hour these last 8 days — I take a 10 minutes to sit on our front yard tattered bench and think about the phenomenal things that come my way; the amazing opportunities I’ve been invited to enjoy, not to mention the dreamy dates I’ve had with all-knowing chefs. All those situations should inspire me daily. As of late… not so much. So in my meanest effort to apply myself and offer up sexy, outside the box, delicious food, I’ve gone to my roots and fancied some of my faves. No surprise the flan is being reworked as we know it. And this guava one was my guinea pig.
In a mental frenzy over how my Friday and weekend were going to shape up considering the mad amount of work I have to do, I decided to keep it simple. But sometimes simple for me means exploring with flavor combinations in a classic dish. I’ve been craving guayaba lately, mostly because I see it on the kitchen counter everyday. I stare at the round tin case and beg myself not to touch it. It’s dangerous. Nothing but sugar with a whole lot of amazing ruby red flavor from guava nectar. But it’s so incredibly good. It’s very typical for us to enjoy it with Cuban crackers and generous slabs of cream cheese. It makes for a perfect rustic dessert or snack alongside some cafécito. Year round, too. It’s not a seasonal mirienda. Friends are unsure of how it works when we offer it, but once they’ve tried, they’re pleasantly surprised at the sweet pairing.
And so infusing the same idea into a flan was enticing. But I wanted to add some heat. In my head it all sounded so intoxicating and just what I needed to avoid while I’m in “shed 5 pounds (again)” mode. Next to the round tin, we have spicy mint jam. And I try to avoid that, too. We’re all familiar with those biting jellies, right? Mint jalpeño, etc..? Or mango habanero? Yeah… a creamy, heated guava blend had to work.
And be better.
Guava aside, the cheese and habaneros were going to be the most spectacular elements. I’ve done a goat cheese flan before, which rocked my emotions, but since my work with Sargento Cheese is in full effect, I’m naturally considering all options.
And I’ve never added heat to a custard. The fun part of exploring the trends assigned (see this post and this post to read about the collabo) is my cross into others. Although Peruvians also have a flan variety, similarly made, the habanero flavor is challenging for me personally. I don’t tolerate heat all that well, and incorporating it into my go-to foods is tricky.
Picking the habaneros up at my little Asian market down the street was easy. But the cheese I went for had to be something malleable but discernable. Cream cheese was the obvious selection. But that was easy. Not so exciting either. The portfolio I’m working with includes all kinds of delicious quesos I could incorporate, but I settled on Sargento’s whole milk ricotta. It was the closest to cream cheese in the way of its softness and creaminess. Kind of. And its lightly sweet notes would complement the heat nicely.
And my oh my did it. Happy dances all the way from the dining room to the patio.
As much as I enjoyed combining the ingredients and making it something special, I was more into a new way of making and plating flan. Pressure-cooking whole quart size flans are default in this house. It’s just super easy. Even my clients prefer the big ones to cute ramekins. This time called for something seen but new to me.
This is what happened!
I love it! I’ve seen flan and other custards in shot glasses but I’ve never been patient enough to play with it. Perhaps it’s the time thing. It’s genius, sexy and totally appropriate for portion control. I’m currently in custard heaven! And you should join me. Note, though..s it’s much more labor intensive.
Coating the shot glasses had to happen really fast. The glass needed to be tempered with steam from the pot where I was boiling water for the bain marie to avoid cracking. I also wanted the guava flavor to seep in the flan, not just in the custard mix. That added a great element of liquid yum. I finally figured the glass had to be cooked in certain pot. Glass holding food to be cooked in iron pot? Not so much.
The effort was oh so worth it. My kitchen turned into a fabulous caramel factory with different dessert options. I’m like the chicest chick in my block, knocking on my neighbor’s doors asking them to check out my delectables. Since I only made two shooters, I ended up with a lovely sized flan for the rest of the fam. I cut my single slice and enjoyed it to the max.
Creamy, sweet, and spicy in a flan worked better than I foresaw. The texture was beautiful and perfectly balanced. The heat.. well let’s just say it was a bit too much for me, but if you’re good with tolerance, then you’ll be dancing like I was. This is the fun part about exploring and developing ultra goodness. I swear I never imagined a basic, “poor folk” treat to be such refined decadence. Those pausing moments on the bench do help. I need to spend more time on it!
Other than cream, what cheese would you play with?
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.