La cocina Latina is more than just excellent Mexican food. As Maricel E. Presilla shows in Gran Cocina Latina, it’s a wonderfully complex amalgam of Portugese and Spanish-speaking countries’ cooking customs, from Argentina and Cuba to Mexico and many islands in the Caribbean. Read more in our November cooking column!
When I think Latin American desserts, I think flan, and this one looks amazing.
Valencia Orange and Cheese Flan with Orange Rum Sauce
Flan de Queso y Naranja con Salsa de Naranja y Ron
This is a seductive flan with the texture of a creamy cheesecake and the aroma of fresh oranges and orange blossoms. I once made it for a friend who liked it so much I decided to serve it at my restaurants. The key flavoring is Venezuelan Santa Teresa Rhum Orange, an artful orange rum liqueur that gives the dessert flavor and depth. You can use other orange liqueurs, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier, but try adding a tablespoon or two of a good aged rum as well. It does wonders for the flavor.
- 2 cups sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1⁄3 cup whole milk
- Two 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Ceylon cinnamon sticks (canela)
- 6 star anise pods
- Peel of ½ orange, cut into long strips
- 8 ounces cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia brand, softened
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup orange-flavored liqueur, preferably Santa Teresa Rhum Orange or Cointreau
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 4 cups fresh orange juice (from 12–14 medium oranges)
- P eel of ½ orange, cut into thin slivers
- Orange slices, for garnish
Have ready a baking pan at least 3 inches deep that is large enough to hold the flan mold comfortably. Place 1 cup sugar and the water in a small heavy saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook until the liquid turns a light caramel color. To avoid crystallization, do not stir, and brush the sides of the pan frequently with a pastry brush dipped in ice water. Pour into a mold, either a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan or an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan, and swirl at once to coat the bottom and sides. Let cool.
Place the whole milk and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the black seeds into the milk, and add the bean; or add the vanilla extract. Add the cinnamon, star anise, and orange peel and bring the milk barely to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. Strain and discard the solids.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cream cheese, egg yolks, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon while adding the condensed milk until smooth and well integrated. Add the cooled steeped milk, ¼ cup liqueur, and the orange blossom water and stir gently until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the caramelized mold. Place the baking pan on the middle oven rack. Set the mold in the baking pan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides. Bake until just until set, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
While the flan is cooling, place the orange juice, the remaining 1 cup sugar, and the slivered orange peel in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced almost by half. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup liqueur and continue simmering for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Chill the flan in the refrigerator, in the pan, for at least 3 hours before serving. Unmold onto a decorative platter and garnish with orange slices. Pour the sauce into a decorative bowl and bring to the table with the flan.