If there's any dessert that should be on the world's "must-try" list, cheesecake flan is one of them. It was through my friend Simran's blog, A Little Yumminess, that I first learnt about this famous dessert served at Cafe Habana in New York. It was the most decadent, rich, creamy and luscious thing I had ever had as far as I could remember. I would describe it as a creme caramel flavoured cheesecake, and it is one that should be enjoyed quietly, and not shared, if possible, with no distractions so as to appreciate each bite that coats the entire palette and leaves you feeling almost euphoric. No kidding.
Having lived in Singapore, I enjoyed the local beverage of black tea with condensed milk and evaporated milk, which is better known as "teh-C" should you wish to order it at the coffee shop. Eating this flan instantly reminded me of this duo-milk combination, which tastes creamy and subtly sweet with a hint of caramel from the condensed milk. It leaves a lingering taste in your mouth that makes you want to eat more, which is why I said, no sharing is best, if possible. But of course, you can always share one and then have another, right?
This is a really simple and elegant dessert that is sure to impress your guests. The great thing about it is that you can prepare it one or two days before, which leaves you free to do whatever you need to do on the day your guests arrive. The downside though, is that you have to refrigerate it overnight before you can eat it (although I just couldn't wait that long and had one after 4 hours in the fridge, and it was just swell!). Leaving it overnight allows time for the caramel to absorb into the cheesecake. If you're a fan of cheesecake and creme caramel, then you would totally fall in love with this flan! It's absolutely divine, and yet, ridiculously easy to make.
Cheesecake FlanAdapted from A Little Yumminess
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese (7 ounces)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half (I used half heavy cream and half milk)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped cream and fresh berries, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 135°C (275°F). In a small, heavy-based saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice and cook over moderately low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and swirl occasionally until an amber caramel forms, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately pour the hot caramel into six 1-cup ramekins, swirling them to coat the bottoms.
- In a blender*, combine the cream cheese with the condensed and evaporated milks, half-and-half, eggs and vanilla and blend on medium speed until smooth. Refrigerate the custard for 10 minutes, skim off the foam and pour the custard into the prepared ramekins.
- Set the ramekins in a small roasting pan; add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake the flans for about 1 1/2 hours or until they are set and a toothpick inserted in the centers come out almost clean. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.
- To unmold each flan, set the bottom of the ramekin in a pan of hot water for about 1 minute. Run a thin blade around the edge of the flan and cover with a plate. Invert the plate and shake once or twice; the flan should release easily. Serve with whipped cream and berries if desired.
* I used a food processor and blended the cream cheese first until creamy, followed by the eggs. I then added the rest of the ingredients and processed until smooth with no lumps in the mixture. Make sure you scrape down the cheese from the sides and bottom of the bowl and blend well.