When it comes to reasons for eating dairy on Shavuot, you have a variety to choose from. Here’s one that I like: on this day that commemorates receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, we remember that the text should lie “like honey and milk” under the tongue (according to the Song of Songs). Why focus on this one? It gives me an excuse to make flan.
This dessert, which is known in Francophile circles as crème caramel, is both milky and sweet as honey. Here’s a recipe and a how-to for the tricky caramel part. This version adds the depth of coffee flavor and the bright note of raspberry sauce (the photo includes a dollop of goji berry sauce, too). Enjoy, and have a wonderful Shavuot!
Coffee Flan with Raspberry Sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup ground coffee
2 1/4 cups milk or heavy cream or any combination thereof
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Boil the water with the coffee. Let sit for 10 minutes, then measure out 3/4 cup of the coffee. Combine with the other 2 1/4 cups liquid and set aside in the refrigerator.
Have 6 6-oz. ramekins or 2 soup bowls ready.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water and slowly bring to a simmer, swishing the mixture as it heats. Bring to a gentle boil and swish and watch it carefully until it turns an amber color. When it simmers and then boils, you should avoid sugar crystals forming on the sides of the pan. To do this, have a pastry brush and a cup of water nearby. Periodically run the wet brush around the sides of the pan to wash the sugar off the sides and get it back into the caramel.
As soon as that’s a light amber, remove the caramel from the heat and pour it into your ramekins or bowls. Swish it around while it’s still hot to cover the bottom and some of the sides. Set this aside.
Now beat the eggs, the 3/4 cup sugar, and salt together and have it ready. Heat the milk/cream and coffee until wisps of steam appear on the surface. Whisk the hot liquid into the egg-sugar mixture, combining well and making sure the sugar melts but the egg doesn’t cook. Add the vanilla.
Now pour into your prepared vessels.
Now set up a water bath: Take a baking pan and line the bottom with a cooling rack or dishtowel. Place your ramekins or bowls on the towel so they don’t touch each other or the sides. Carefully place the whole thing in the oven. Pull the oven rack out part way and carefully add water to the baking pan until the water is 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the sides of the flan vessels.
Now bake for 40 minutes to 2 hours or until the flan is set (when only the middle is a little jiggly or a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean). Add more water if necessary as it evaporates.
To prepare the raspberry sauce, combine the 1/4 cup each of the raspberry jam, water, and sugar. Heat and mix until smooth. If it’s not thick enough for your liking, add more sugar or a little cornstarch.
When the flan is ready, remove it from the water bath and chill for at least 6 hours. When you’re ready to serve it, prepare a shallow bath of hot water and let the flans sit in it for a minute or so—but do not immerse them in the water. This will melt the caramel at the bottom. Loosen the edges of the flan with a knife and invert each ramekin or bowl onto your serving plate.
Remember to use a serving plate with sides because the caramel will pool around the flan (yum!). For your finishing touch, drizzle the raspberry sauce on the flan.