I was 41 and single when my first four children had grown and were ready to leave the nest. Even though I had a full-time job, my children thought I would “die of sadness” alone at home and urged me to “Go out and get a life.” Little did they (or I!) know that my new life would involve becoming a foster parent. But in the past 10 years, I have fostered nine children and adopted three of them.
I was born in Cuba and came to Miami when I was five. My children all have Latin blood—so that makes for a lively household. We have dance lessons at home, learning the salsa, bolero, cha-cha-cha, and even Mexican tap. We speak Spanish. And we love to cook! The smell of rice and beans brings a smile to our face, and nothing is sweeter than a good homemade flan. Our recipe combines the flavors of Mexico, Cuba, and Miami, and its a delicious end to a traditional Latino meal. Try the recipe below—and Buen apetito!
Marih Che’s Flan
Flan is a rich custard dessert topped with a soft, decorative caramel. (serves 8)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole eggs, and 2 additional egg yolks
- cup white granulated sugar
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 5 tablespoons water
- cup white granulated sugar (for caramel topping)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat the condensed milk and whole milk over low heat. Add the cinnamon sticks, and let stand.
2. Pour the warm milk mixture, eggs, egg yolks, cup sugar, and cream cheese into a bowl, and blend for about 40 seconds with an electric hand mixer. (The blended mixture should be thin and liquidy, not thick.)
3. Put the 5 tablespoons of water and the cups sugar into a saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the water evaporates. Do not stir until the sugar is golden brown.
4. Drop a desired amount of the sugary (caramel) mixture onto a small piece of aluminum foil, creating any shape you wish. Let stand. You will use this later as a decorative topping.
5. Use the rest of the caramel mixture to coat the bottom and sides of a large porcelain souffle dish. Pour the blended milk, egg, and cream cheese mixture into the porcelain dish, and set in a larger dish filled with 2 inches of water.
6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Before serving, loosen sides with a knife and flip onto a rimmed platter. Let cool.
7. Remove the caramel decoration from the aluminum foil, and place it on top of the flan just before serving. Garnish with sliced mango, oranges, or grated coconut.