How to make garlic flan
A silky, savory custard with a mild garlic flavor.
Fresh, green garlic. I buy kilos of it every spring, hanging most of it up by its stalks to dry in my well-ventilated, shady laundry room. Bringing those pungent bagfuls of fresh garlic home from the market hadn’t made me the most popular passenger on the bus, but it was worth the trouble. Everyone likes the pestos and tomato sauces I make, the chicken and meat dishes, the salads and soups – all flavored to one degree or another with that garlic. Not to mention garlic confit spread on toasted baguette slices.
Here’s a recipe where garlic is tamed by first cooking in water, then incorporated into cream and eggs. The result is an unusual savory flan with a silky texture and mild garlic flavor. It’s delicious with dishes that have a contrasting texture, so serve it anything grilled or roasted, and make sure to have a crunchy salad alongside.
- 1 head of fresh garlic with large cloves
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 egg yolks
- Butter for the ramekins or dish
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives for garnish
- Six 3-1/2 inch ramekins or a soufflé dish
- Potato masher
- Baking pan that’s as deep as the ramekins/dish
Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C). Start boiling 2 cups water in a medium saucepan.
Pull the head of garlic apart, but leave the cloves unpeeled. Have the water boiling, and drop the garlic cloves in. Lower the heat, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the garlic onto a medium bowl and allow it to cool.
In the meantime, butter the ramekins or soufflé dish well. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Put the saucepan aside for later (no need to rinse). Start boiling 4 cups of water in a kettle for the final baking in a bain-marie.
Squeeze each garlic clove – the cooked garlic will emerge from the root end, not the pointy top. Discard the peels. Mash the garlic with a potato masher until you obtain a paste.
Pour the cream into the saucepan and add the garlic paste. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper. Take the saucepan off the heat. Add the beaten egg yolks to the cream mixture and whisk to distribute them well.
Spoon the cream into buttered ramekins or soufflé dish. Place in the baking dish and put the whole thing in the oven.
Pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to come up halfway up the sides of the ramekins/dish. This is important: less than halfway up, and the cream won’t cook all the way through.
Bake for 25 minutes. Peek into the oven after 15 minutes. The top will caramelize, but if it looks like it might burn, place a layer of tin foil lightly over the tops of the ramekins/dish.
If serving in ramekins, wait 10 minutes before turning them upside down to serve. If using a soufflé dish, serve the flan out of it in generous spoonfuls. Either way, garnish with chopped chives.