Monday, June 12, 2006

Pudim de Leite - Brazilian Caramel Flan

My mother is visiting us (to help with our brand new baby -- who is so cute -- I know, I am biased!). She is a great cook, she is making all my favorite dishes that I missed so much since I moved to the US.

The Brazilian Caramel Flan (Pudim de Leite) is a creamy, rich baked custard pudding topped with sticky caramel sauce. It's a traditional dessert in Brazilian homes, made for Christmas and New Year's celebrations as well as family gatherings all year around.

Her recipe is foolproof - just be careful not to overcook the caramel.

Brazilian Caramel Flan

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of milk
3 eggs
8-inch ring mold

Caramel Sauce
Flan Mold or Angel Food Cake Pan


1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar

Melt sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stir until golden caramel (about 4 minutes), pour in water and bring to boil. Lower the heat and boil until it has a light syrup consistency - it will thicken as it gets cold. Remove from heat and pour in the mold immediately.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend the condensed milk, milk, and eggs, pour into prepared mold. Set the mold in a shallow baking pan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the mold. Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the flan comes out clean. Remove from the oven and the water bath; cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours until firm.
When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the flan. Place a dessert plate on top of the flan and invert to pop it out.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

Panna Cotta sounds like a complicated dessert but it's very easy to make and can be made one or two days in advance. I made it only a couple hours before dinner but it's better to leave it overnight in the fridge. Vanilla Panna Cotta is a creamy and smooth dessert and can be dressed up with a fruity sauce. I used strawberries because they are in season and there is nothing better than fresh and sweet strawberry sauce. The vanilla beans in the pudding and the strawberry sauce are a fabulous combination.

Vanilla Panna Cotta (6-8 servings)

3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar

In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin and let soak about 10 minutes (do not stir). Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla bean and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. If the gelatin doesn't completely dissolve in 3 minutes, return the mixture to the heat and warm gently until dissolved. Pour the mixture into 6 to 8 ramekins or dessert cups. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours.
To serve panna cotta, dip the cups in hot water for 10 seconds, then turn the panna cottas out onto dessert plates (or, serve in the cups) and drizzle with the Strawberry Sauce.

Strawberry Sauce
9oz fresh strawberries
1/4 cups sugar
Rinse the strawberries quickly under cool water and drain. Cut the stems off, and cut strawberries in quarters. Combine in a small saucepan with the sugar and two tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat immediately. Pour into the bowl of a blender or food processor and mix with short pulses. Cover, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to serve.