Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Persimmon Flan

At our neighbor's Solstice celebration potluck last night, just twenty out of the thirty people present raised their hands when asked if they wanted persimmon flan for dessert. For some, persimmon anything seems foreign.

I was not surprised however, when a few someones gave other dessert-less someones a wee bite, exclaiming, "You've got to try this!", and little by little those who had opted out began wandering in to the kitchen, looking around expectantly to see if there was any left.

There wasn't.

Upon seeing the empty dessert platter, the look on one woman's face was so woebegone that I thrust the platter and a spoon into her hands so she could scoop up the few bits that remained along with a tiny bit of caramel sauce.

Converts are made every time I serve this delectable dessert. The recipe below has been doubled from the original to make two 9-inch round flans. I have changed some of the ingredients to provide a lower-carb, lower fat dessert.

Persimmon Flan
adapted from Potager by Georgeanne Brennan
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 cups persimmon puree from about 4 large very ripe hachiya persimmons
1/2 cup Splenda granular
2 cups milk, cream or regular 1/2 & 1/2, your preference
2 cups fat free 1/2 & 1/2, such as Land o Lakes
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups egg substitute (equivalent to 6 eggs)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Click here and scroll down to "preparation" to see how to cut, peel and de-seed a persimmon. When you have 2 cups of pulp, place it in a saucepan and cook, stirring often, over medium heat for about 5 minutes. The pulp will change to a lighter color and look somewhat gelled.

Remove from the heat, puree in a blender and put through a strainer, discarding any fibers that remain. Set aside.
Place 1/4 cup sugar in each of two 9-inch round cake pans and place each over low to medium heat on your stovetop.
Using a hot pad, tilt the pans as the sugar melts, coating the bottom of the pan. When the sugar has melted and is a deep, golden brown, remove the pans from the heat and tip them so the melted sugar coats both the bottom and the sides of each pan. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and arrange two racks in the the center part of the oven, spacing them far enough apart to receive a roasting pan on each rack.
Combine the cream and 1/2 & 1/2 in a saucepan and set over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat.
In a bowl, combine the eggs and the egg substitute and beat lightly. Add the 1/2 cup Splenda, salt and vanilla.
Pour the cream mixture slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly but gently until fully combined. Vigorous whisking will create bubbles, the ruin of many a flan. Stir in the persimmon puree.
Place each cake pan in its own large roasting pan and divide the custard between the two cake pans, filling them to just under the rims.
Pour very hot water into each roasting pan until it comes up halfway on each cake pan.

Bake the flans for about 40 minutes or until the just centers jiggle when given a gentle shake and a knife inserted into the middle of the flans comes out clean.
Remove flans from the oven and allow to come to room temperature. I usually refrigerate them overnight before serving.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the flan, place a plate over the top and, holding both the plate and the cake pan firmly in your hands, flip them both together allowing the flan to drop onto the plate. You may have to give the cake pan a shake if it doesn't immediately release the flan. The caramelized sugar will run over the flans and down the sides, making a sumptuous presentation. As you can see in the photo above, a few bits from the custard has joined the caramelized sugar. This is home cooking, not absolute perfection.

This my third and final entry for Kalyn's special herb blogging event, Holiday Cooking with Herbs. Kalyn will be rounding up all the entries early tomorrow morning so she can then travel to enjoy Christmas with her family. If you want to join in, be sure to send her your link today.

Cook's Notes:
Sometimes I have left over custard after filling the cake pans. When this happens, I just place the leftovers into 4-ounce custard cups and put them into the water bath around the cake pans. These make even lower carb desserts as there is no caramelized sugar present. Plus, you can eat them right out of the cups.
This flan will form layers as it bakes because the persimmon puree is lighter than the custard base. This not only gives the tongue different textures to explore, but I consider it a lovely presentation as well.