Thursday, April 26, 2007

"I Can't Abide a Flan!" Cake

I love funny people. I hang with some funny, funny people. And as with most circles of friends, running jokes tend to develop over time. One of our jokes has to do with flan. That doesn't sound like a topic rife with comedic appeal, then again, one of my favorite Eddie Izzard jokes has to do with watching a regime "slowly collapse like a flan in a cupboard," so I could be wrong on that point. Anyway, I am a bit of a fence-rider when it comes to flan and its French cousin, Creme Caramel. I enjoy a silky custard as well as the next gal--perhaps more--but I think my problem stems from it being served cold, which kind of creeps me out a bit, I won't lie. So I suppose that I prefer a Creme Brulee, still warm from the torch.

But my preferences are neither here nor there. It's my friend, June, that--and I quote--"can't abide a flan!" You see, in general, June enjoys foods with a diversity of flavors and textures, and flan is just too homogenous in character for her liking. So fine, no flan for June. But the other day, my dear friend agreed to proctor an exam for me while I was out of town, and I told her that I definitely would owe her one, and her response was that she would like to be paid in chocolate. As I joke, I replied, chocolate flan it is then! She countered that she knew I was joking, because there's no such thing as chocolate flan! OH NO! With that one naive comment, she had thrown down the culinary gauntlet, and I almost made her chocolate flan just to prove her wrong. But I decided that it would be mean to make someone a dessert that they don't like just for a laugh.

So here's what I made instead: Chocolate Flan Cake! I figured that it would be acceptable because it's chocolate cake on the bottom with the flan on top, all drenched in a dulce de leche topping. Since her issues are primarily textural, I was sure I would be in the clear. We had a good laugh when I served the thing, and everyone--including June--enjoyed it. The best part is, it's a very easy recipe and quite fun to make, too. You won't believe that such a showstopping dessert comes from fairly mundance ingredients. It does require two hours of baking, but the prep is so quick that you can have it in the oven in no time, and then go about your business while it bakes slowly in a water bath. I think, dear readers, you might consider this as part of your Cinco de Mayo celebrations that are fast approaching!

Chocolate Flan Cake
(Source: Recipezaar by way of Cookie Madness)

1 box chocolate cake mix -- 18.25 oz (something dark like Devil's Food or I used Dark Chocolate Fudge)
11 ounces caramel topping, softened or at room temp -- (I used about two-thirds of a jar of a fabulous Dulce de Leche spread that I found in Montreal, but what you really want, if you can find it, is Mexican cajeta)
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces cream cheese -- softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with flour-added cooking spray. Pour caramel topping into pan. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan over the caramel topping. Make the flan. Pour condensed, evaporated and fresh milks into a blender. Add softened cream cheese, vanilla and eggs and blend or process until smooth. Pour the flan mixture very slowly over the cake batter. (I know, I know, but even though you think this will end up upside-down, the flan will rise to the top like magic...I promise!)

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the pan TIGHTLY with the foil. Covering tightly is very important. Set the Bundt pan into a large pan and set on the oven rack and slide in. Carefully pour hot water into the larger pan to a depth of 2 inches (the Bundt pan will be sitting in 2 inches of water).

After two hours, remove cake from water and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Peel off the aluminum foil. Invert cake onto a large plate with rim. The caramel topping should flow down the sides. Cool completely (very don't want condensation dripping into your lovely caramel topping) then refrigerate. Serve chilled and refrigerate the leftovers--if there are any! ;-)

1 comment:

Susan's Snippets said...

Stumbled my way to your site...I just have to say..."Is it wrong to LOVE a cake?"

for petes sake