My dear friend Adriana Torres Chong, originally from Mexico City, now lives in Honolulu and teaches Mexican cuisine at the University of Hawaii’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College (KCC) and does freelance food photography. As a fellow foodie, we often share our passion and experiences with food with each other and also joke about our experiences whenever we’ve revealed to have studied gastronomy at university (she has a BA in Gastronomy from Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana). Sure, foodies who read food blogs understand what gastronomy is but most people think that we study the stars or perform operations on stomachs and bowels so Adriana and I often don’t bother revealing it. An U.S. custom’s agent once asked me what I was studying in Australia and when I said gastronomy, he seriously asked if I drilled for oil (petrol)…and I digress.
I wanted to feature her Flan de Queso on my blog because uniquely, she adds finely grated Mexican cheese (either panela or queso fresco)* in the mixture and the result is a very tasty twist on the traditional flan that is served all over Mexico. Haven’t had a Mexican flan before? It’s a wonderfully, eggy, custardy, sweet and comforting dessert. What I also love about Adriana’s flan is that it is not very dense and super rich like some I have tasted so you can easily eat more than one piece!
*Queso fresco is made by pressing the whey from cottage cheese. It is very similar to cheeses called pot cheese and farmer cheese. It has also been compared to Indian paneer and to a mild feta and panela is also a mild, soft and crumbly cheese.
Adriana’s Flan de Queso
Makes 10 servings
1 14 oz (395 gm) can sweetened condensed milk
1 13 oz (375 ml) can evaporated milk
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 oz (100 gm) queso fresco or panela finely grated
1 c. white caster (granulated) sugar
10 ramekins (1/2 c. capacity) or 9″ baking pan
Pour the sugar in a warm pan over medium heat and stir sugar until it starts to dissolve and changes into a lightly brown caramel colour. At this stage, it can tend to burn very quickly so do not leave the pan at all and stir constantly. As soon as the sugar becomes a gorgeous caramel colour, take it off the heat immediately and quickly pour approximately 1 Tbsp. of caramel into each ramekin or all of the caramel into the baking dish if not using ramekins. Let the caramel cool.
Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
Either whisking by hand or in a food processor, combine the rest of the ingredients and pour the mixture into the caramel lined ramekins (or baking pan) and cover with foil.
Place ramekins or baking pan into a roasting dish and pour enough hot water in the bottom of the roasting dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins (or baking pan).
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the flan is nearly set. To tell when it is ready, the flan should only move slightly when shaken gently or when you insert a knife 1/3 of the way from the edge and it comes out clean. Remove from the water and let them cool before refrigerating.
To serve, run a small sharp knife around each ramekin (or baking pan) and/or fill a bowl or sink with very hot water and dip the bottom for about 10 seconds to loosen. Place a plate over each ramekin and in one motion, flip the ramekin over so that the caramel is on the top. Enjoy!