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Coffee Flan

Perhaps this dessert should be refered to as "flan de cafe" rather than "coffee flan" to honor its Spanish roots. This recipe takes advantage of the basic flan recipe and adds an energetic twist in the form of coffee. Flan is already rich, but this recipe makes it luxuriant. In truth, it is quite simple and relies on instant coffee. In making your choice of instant coffee keep in mind your own personal preferences with regard to brands and flavorings. There are truly an infinite variety of flavorings available and various cream flavorings can also be added to sharply tailor this dish to your own tastes. Conversely, you can simply use traditional spices such as cinnamon and vanilla. If you do this, be sure to increase the whole milk portion of the recipe by 1/2 cup.

3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 can of evaporated milk (12 oz.)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup of cream flavoring of your choice
4 teaspoons instant coffee disolved in 4 tablespoons water
4 large eggs

Lay out 6 flan molds (8 oz oven-safe, smooth-sided dishes). You may also use a single, larger 9-inch round flan mold. Pour sugar in a saucepan and heat at medium on the stove top. Watch closely and constantly stir. The sugar will brown and turn to liquid. This will usually take about 5 minutes. Don't scorch the sugar. Remove from heat and pour caramelized sugar to cover the bottom of the flan molds.

In a mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk together until the eggs are no longer recognizable as white or yoke. You may also use a mixer or blender to speed the process. Yet, I think that hand beating gives the resulting dessert a more authentic texture. Some people like a sweeter custard; if so, add a couple tablespoons of sugar or honey to the mixture as it is being whisked. Distribute the custard mixture to the various flan molds.

Fill a large roasting pan with water up to about an inch from the bottom. Set in the oven and then place the molds within the roasting pan. (If you are brave, you can try putting the flan in the water first.) Carefully slide the rack and close oven door. Set oven to 350 degrees F - no need to preheat. Bake for one hour. Insert a knife to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, then the custard has fully cooked.

When baking is complete, remove flans from roasting pan. Place them on a rack to cool. When they have cooled to the touch place them in refrigerator for 3-4 hours (or longer). To place on serving plate, run a knife around the top of the flan where it is baked to the mold. Flip over flan mold onto the serving plate. Jiggle the flan loose, making it fall in one piece onto the plate. Caramelized sugar forms a sauce over the flan. If you wish, you can spray or spoon on some whipped topping to enhance presentation. Perhaps a small square of chocolate on the side would also be welcome.

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