The Roman Empire, although largely known for its military prowess. Was also a society of invention. It brought us aqueducts.
Our current calendar. (Leap years included.)
Christianity (so they are who I have to thank for all of this Catholic guilt).
Modern neo-classic and Byzantine architecture (ummmm right....).
Tax collection (how that of all things withstood the Barbaric invasions, I will never understand. You would think it could have fallen off the truck somewhere along the way...or been shoved off. Forcefully. Now if only I could just figure out how to go back in time...).
Also. Flan. They brought us flan.
Yes. Unlike many of the formidable Roman monuments that were destroyed upon the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks. This wibbly wobbly dessert. With its flimsy four letter name.
I feel a sort of intimate connection with this delicacy. We are descendants of the same people, after all. We understand each other.
We are survivors.
Which is why I knew that this was the dessert to make for my friend Mari when she came over for dinner this week. Never mind the fact that I've never made it before. Or that there are rules against such things.
Flan and I have a connection. An indomitable bond. It wasn't going to do me wrong.
Topped with homemade whipped cream, this sweet potato flan was just the perfect cross between the more traditional creme caramel and a sweet potato pie. It had an almost smoky flavor, reminiscent of molasses. Complex and yet subtle. It, like many of the best things in life, got better with time. (And by time I mean two days. And that was pushing it. Seeing as how we came dangerously close to eating it all in one sitting.)
I personally think this would be perfect as a kind of quirky alternative to traditional Thanksgiving desserts. But it was also delicious on a pretty warm day at the end of April. A further testament to its invincibility.
Sweet Potato Flan
Serves 8, adapted from What's For Lunch Honey?
400 g sweet potato, peeled and cut into thick slices
1 lime, juiced
190 g sugar, separated
2 tbsp water
1 cup almond milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the sweet potato slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast them for 30 minutes but make sure they don't become too dark. Allow them to cool. Puree them in a food processor with the lime juice. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve.
2. Stir half of the sugar and 2 tbsp water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring, until the mixture takes on an amber brown color. Immediately pour the caramel into small ramekins or one 9-inch round cake pan. Save about 2 tbsp caramel in the saucepan. Swirl the caramel around the cake pan so that it covers the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides.
3. Add the milk to the remaining caramel in the saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the caramel dissolves. Whisk eggs in a bowl until frothy. Whisk in cream, salt, sweet potato puree, and remaining sugar. SLOWLY whisk the hot caramel-milk mixture into the egg mixture. (Really. Slowly. Otherwise the eggs will cook.) Pour back into the saucepan and heat for 1 minute. Pour into the baking pan or ramekins.
4. Place the pan inside a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until just set in center, about 30-45 minutes. Remove from water. Chill 5 hours or overnight.
5. Serve topped with homemade whipped cream.
Posted by - Joanne