Caramelized Fig Flan
This take on a classic Spanish flan incorporates caramelized fresh figs that are baked in a rich egg custard. When the flan is inverted onto a platter, the figs adorn the top for a beautiful presentation.
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) heavy cream
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 12 Mission figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
- 4 eggs plus 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp. salt
In a saucepan, combine the cream, granulated sugar and vanilla bean. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.
In a fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the figs, cut side down, and cook until soft, about 12 minutes. Arrange the figs, cut side down, in a single layer in a round nonstick 9-inch (23-cm) cake pan. Pour the syrup from the pan on top of the figs, evenly covering the bottom of the pan. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Bring a kettle of water to a boil.
Remove the vanilla bean pod from the cream mixture and scrape the seeds into the cream. Discard the pod. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and salt until smooth. Slowly pour in the warm cream mixture while continuing to beat until well combined. Pour the egg mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl with a spout. Then, pour the strained mixture into the cake pan, taking care not to dislodge the figs. Place the pan in a roasting pan. Pour in hot water from the kettle to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the cake pan.
Bake until a knife inserted into the center of the flan comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove the cake pan from the roasting pan and cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
To serve, run a thin-bladed knife blade around the inside of the pan to loosen the flan. Briefly immerse the bottom of the pan in hot water to loosen the caramel. Invert a large serving plate over the top, then invert the pan and plate in a single quick motion. Lightly tap the bottom of the pan to loosen the flan, then lift off the pan. If any figs stick to the pan, use a knife tip to loosen them. Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Luscious Fruit Desserts (Weldon Owen, 2015)