Congratulations Lel Dinner: Part Two

Dessert!  Earlier in the day I was looking around my kitchen and trying to figure out what to make for a celebratory dessert.  On the counter was a large bowl of recently harvested sweet potatoes from my garden.  A handful of fresh eggs from the hen house and hhmm… custard?… pie?… and then I remembered flan!

When I was little, my mom made a pumpkin flan once for Thanksgiving.  I think I might have begged her to make it again every year for the next few years.  That wonderfully light creamy texture dripping with caramel sauce.  Hands down it is a simple yet elegant treat.  I figured if you can make flan with pumpkin then you can make it with sweet potato.

I spent a few minutes scouring the internet for recipes.  I found a few good sweet potato flan recipes, but none that were sugar free.  So I decided to make my own based roughly on the recipes I had found online.  Another difference I made was to make Dulce De Leche for the caramel sauce.  Most recipes do not ask you to do this, but I have found that Dulce De Leche is about the easiest caramel sauce to make.  I find it way easier than water based caramel sauces.  It also has a very smooth creamy taste.  Normally Dulce De Leche is made with sugar, but I wanted to make it without sugar.  So the recipe below is a sugar free version.  If you want a great recipe and instructions on a sugar based Dulce De Leche.  Check out Alton Brown’s recipe.  You should also be able to find the video clips from the episode of Good Eats if you want to watch the process in action.

Dulce De Leche Recipe:

2 Cups Milk (I used reduced fat because that is what I had in the fridge, but you can use full fat too)

3/4 Cup of Honey (I had more honey than agave so I opted for honey, but you could substitute agave)

1/4 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

In a small sauce pan place 2 Cups of Milk, 3/4 Cup of Honey, and Vanilla.

On medium high heat bring the milk up to a simmer.  Add the 1/4 Tsp of Baking Soda and reduce the heat to low.  You will want to keep an eye on this and stir occasionally, however when you see foam appear on the surface do not stir the foam into the sauce.  Use a spoon to skim the foam off the top and discard.

It will take roughly an hour to reduce.  I watch the sauce for color, it should turn a golden amber color like those little caramel square your grandmother always had a jar of,  also occasionally dip a spoon in letting the sauce drip off the back to get a sense of thickness.  You are aiming for something along the lines of warm maple syrup.  Keep in mind that it will thicken up a bit when it cools.  Also the photos I took of my Dulce De Leche are a bit dark.  So don’t base the color of yours by the color below.

Pour the finished Dulce De Leche into a jar and store in the fridge.

And now onto the flan!

Sweet Potato Flan Recipe:

1 1/2 Cups of Sweet Potato ( Roughly 1 large sweet potato or a few small ones)

2/3 Cup of Agave Nectar

1 Cup Half and Half

4 Eggs

1/2 Cups Heavy/Whipping Cream

1/4 Tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Wash a few small sweet potatoes or one large one, pierce the skin a couple times with a fork, and place on a baking sheet.  Bake the sweet potatoes for roughly 45 min to an hour.

I made extra because baked sweet potatoes are tasty!  After the sweet potatoes are done roasting, you can let them cool if you want to,  peel and place them in a mixing bowl.  It is time to mash!

After the sweet potatoes are mashed set them aside.  In a separate bowl or the same bowl minus the sweet potatoes add four eggs.

Whisk the eggs thoroughly.  Whisk in the cream, salt, and sweet potato.

This is a good point to prep your baking dish or dishes.  I decided to go with two small baking dishes.  Pour a  1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of the Dulce De Leche on the bottom on your baking dish.  Make sure to reserve 2 TBLS.  Place your baking dish in a larger roasting pan.  Fill the roasting pan with hot water to at least the half way make on the baking dish you will be putting the flan in.

Okay now back to the flan.  In a small sauce pan heat the half and half with 2 TBLS of the Dulce De Leche.  Gradually whisk the heated half and half into the sweet potato mixture.  Strain the whole mixture through a fine mesh strainer back into the small sauce pan.

Stir over medium heat for one minute.  Remove from heat and pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake at 350F for roughly an hour or until the center is set.  Remove from the oven and place the flan in the fridge for 4 or 5 hours.  This can be done a day ahead.  Once the flan is completely chilled and you are ready to serve.  run a knife along the very edge of the dish.  Place a plate on top of the baking dish and turn it over.  The flan will slide out on to the plate with the caramel sauce dripping down the sides.

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Friday September 28th Dinner: Sofia’s Birthday!

Last Friday was Sofia’s Birthday.  Sofia is one of those people with amazing self-discipline.  She exercises daily, almost never drinks, eats only organic, and has not eaten refined sugar in years- sometimes I worry that she is an alien 🙂 She is also a regular to our Friday night dinners, for her, this often means watching the rest of us enjoy red wine and homemade deserts.  I usually try to have something that is sugar-free for her, but that is not always practical. I hate it when she is left out, but for both my birthday and Adrianne’s, I made cake-  angel food cake- which requires sugar.  I didn’t want to risk/experiment with a sugar-free version and end up with a flat chewy angel food for birthday Fridays.

So now we are celebrating Sofia’s birthday and I wanted her to have a sugar-free cake.  I had never attempted a sugar-free cake before, so I was a little worried it would come out dense, but this recipe seemed to do the trick.  I spent sometime scouring the internet for cake recipes using Agave Nectar instead of refined sugar.  I came up with a couple, but wasn’t completely satisfied with the presentation. Then, I remembered making a Plum Tatin  a while back and thinking how beautiful it was.  So I decided to go with a sugar free peach tatin-peaches because right now in GA the organic peaches are unbelievably sweet and tasty. Game on!

  • Sugar Free Peach Tatin Recipe:

  • 3-4 Organic Peaches
  • Agave Nectar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups Organic King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cup organic milk
  • a Pint of Organic Heavy Whipping Cream

Ok, pre-heat your oven to 375F and get a medium sauce pan filled with water boiling.  I sort of made this whole part up based on what I thought I peach Tatin should/could look like.  I decided to peel the peaches.  The easiest way to do this is to cut the peaches in half, pit them, and then plop them into the pot of boiling water for 30 seconds.  You only want to add about three halves to the pot at a time.  Otherwise the temperature of the water will drop below a boil. After 30 seconds,  immediately move them from the boiling water to an ice water bath (a big bowl full of water and ice).  Oops, I forgot to take pictures of this part.

After you have done this to all the peach halves, pull them one by one out of the ice water bath and peel them.  It is fairly easy, but you can use the back of a paring knife or a butter knife to help when the skin sticks.

  After you have peeled all the peaches, you can begin to slice them.  I found it was easiest to just add them to the cake pan as I sliced.  I don’t actually have a regular cake pan, so I decided to use the spring form bundt type pan that I do have.  You could actually just use a pie pan or what ever kind of cake pan that you do have.  Lightly butter the cake pan and lightly flour it.  Now you can start adding the layers of peaches to the bottom.

    First full layer

Second Layer

Since this was sort of an experiment, I just eyeballed the agave I added.  I would say it was roughly 3 TBLS, but I basically took the bottle of agave nectar with the squeeze top and drizzled a nice layer on top of the peaches.  The peaches are very sweet on their own and don’t really need very much help- if you want to you could slice all the peaches first and toss them in agave and taste to get the sweetness that you want.

Ok, so now that the pan is prepped, we can start working on the cake batter.  I found this cake batter recipe on another blog.  Simply Food Online the title of the post was yummy yummy yellow cake.  The first step is to mix together 2 ½ cups flour, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for roughly 30 seconds.

Once the butter is beaten slowly add 3/4 Cup of Agave nectar.

After the butter and agave have mixed, add 3 eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla.  At this point, start adding the flour mixture and the milk alternately.  Slowly add a little flour mixture and then a little milk until all the flour and milk are incorporated (that means  batter-like). IMPORTANT! Do Not Over Mix or you will have a Brick instead of a cake- only funny when it happens to other cooks.  Then stop the mixer.  Spoon the cake batter over the peaches in the cake pan.  Leave a little room at the top for rising.

Now it is time for the oven.  I placed this cake pan on top of a baking sheet in a 375F oven.  Roughly 20-25 minutes, but keep an eye on this.  Poke the cake with a toothpick or a skewer.  If it comes out clean the cake is done.  It should look something like this:

Let the cake cool.  It will pull away from the sides a bit, which actually makes it easier to invert later.

I know this is not the best picture but I was kept busy keeping my guests/helpers away from the cake 🙂  The last step to this cake is to take a plate and place it over the top of the cake pan and then flip the whole thing over.  It will slide out of the cake pan beautifully onto the plate like so.  I also decided to add fresh whipped cream in the center and around the sides for a little added presentation/ moister.  Not that the cake is dry, but I figured whip cream is tasty and would add to the over all experience.  To make the whipped cream, I just whipped a pint of heavy whip cream with a little bit of agave nectar.  Just taste it to see how sweet you want the cream to be.

Sofia was so happy about this cake.  It was really an excellent birthday!  She even got a couple of slices ( Lel cried, but it was Sofia’s birthday, after all) to take home at the end of the night. 🙂