Summer seems to be moseying in here in Portland, slow and steady. The mornings are still cool and crisp, overcast skies with sun breaks throughout the days. Yet there are the ever present signs that we are ramping up (hopefully) to sunnier days, blackberry brambles growing taller, hens are laying champions, garden greens are soon ready to be picked, farmers markets are brimming with strawberries and the birds start their sweet songs a little bit earlier each morning.
I've been counting the days to summer and the boys being out of school. I'm looking forward to berry stained hands and faces, their knees banged up from playing hard, their tanned necks and blonde hair bleached by the sun, afternoon swim dates and eating alfresco in the backyard at night. My boys love the later bedtimes, movie nights mid week and any chance to sneak a popsicle out of the freezer.
I feel I'm a bit more indulgent in the summer too. Iced coffees in the afternoon, rosato chilling in the refrigerator all summer long and cool desserts/treats seem to happen more often. Our five hens have been gifting us with the most beautiful eggs and I'm starting to get a surplus. The idea of making a flan came to mind to put some to good use. I picked up the most beautiful apricots from the farmers market and knew exactly where they were going to end up. I love apricots, they have always been one of my favorite fruits since I was a child. Growing up for the latter part of my youth in Grand Junction, Colorado, I remember there was a lone apricot tree at the edge of a farmers field across from where we lived. I would walk the perimeter of the field late Spring in hopes that early frost hadn't hindered the fruit and my chance to eat a few. Living in a area where apricot, peach and cherry orchards were abundant I was lucky to taste fruit at it's peak each season. The way apricots smell and taste evokes the delight of being a kid and all the magical freedoms that came with it.
These apricots flash cooked with Sauternes and vanilla elevated the silky caramel custard and the addition of coconut is a fun twist on an old classic. You could easily sub in peaches if apricots aren't available. You don't want to over cook the fruit, it doesn't take much to turn ripe apricots into mush, be watchful in the preparation of them.
I hope your summer is off to an amazing start, booked out with family and friend get togethers and lots of adventuring. I'm looking forward to all of the above, more sweet treats this summer has to offer and sneaking the occasional popsicle while my boys aren't looking.
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Suzanne Goin
1 cup granulated sugar
One 14 ounce can condensed milk
One 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs
1 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 300 F
Stir together the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a very clean medium sized saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil without stirring. Continue cooking about 10 minutes, until the sugar caramelizes and becomes a deep golden brown. Immediately remove pot from the heat and pour about 1 teaspoon of the caramel into each of eight ramekins. Swirl the ramekins, to coat the bottom evenly with the caramel. Allow to cool and harden.
Pour condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, eggs and coconut into a blender, and mix at high speed for 30 seconds or until incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the caramel coated ramekins, stirring it before you pour, to make sure the coconut is incorporated. Fill each one to about 1/4 inch beneath the rim. Place the ramekins in a large baking dish, and then pour water into the baking dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the whole pan tightly with foil, carefully place in the oven, and bake about 1 hour. The custard should be just set.
When the custards are done, carefully remove the baking dish from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool in the water bath 15 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Before serving, run a hot pairing knife around the edges and turn each custard onto a plate. Let the caramel ooze over the top. Spoon the apricots and their sauce around the flans.
Apricots and Sauternes
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Sauternes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange blossom honey
1/2 cinnamon stick
9 apricots, pits removed, halved
Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and, using a pairing knife, scrape the seeds and pulp into a large saucepan. Add the orange juice, wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick and vanilla pods. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Turn the heat to medium low and continue cooking the liquid 5 to 7 minutes, to reduce and thicken slightly.
Turn the heat to low and place apricots halves in the pan, cut side up. Simmer about 3 minutes, until they just began to soften. Turn off the heat, and let the apricots cool in the pan of liquid. Keep in mind that the apricots will continue to cook in the warm liquid.