Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ellan's Pudim

I may not have mentioned this in the past, but I’m Catholic. I’m not by any means a good Catholic. I went to Catholic school, went to Mass every Sunday while young. But, yeah, I haven’t kept up with going to Church, because I suck. The one thing that I do try to keep up every year is to observe the practice of Lent (no meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays until Easter). You’re also supposed to give up something that you really enjoy. Sweets are a big one. Facebook is a new age one. For me, I’m giving up all sweets and candies… and soda. The first week always sucks. I’m tired and irritable like nobody’s business, and I pretty much turn into an absolute hater. The lack of sugar and caffeine make me feel like I’m going through Menopause. I hate Lent.
Making the caramel
So we’re just about over with the first week of Lent, and I’m over the hump of hot flashes anger. But god damn. Of recent, I’ve been tempted, and I failed hard core. The feat of Ellan concluded with a dessert called “pudim.” It’s basically a Brazilian flan. Same jiggly, smooth texture, same caramelized sweet scent. This version of flan will haunt your dreams, and hence why I failed to resist.
Covering the pan
with the caramel
The pudim starts out simple enough by preparing a caramel. Set a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium high heat, and pour in a little over ¾ cups of sugar. Once the sugar is melted, and darkened nicely into an amber hue, Ellan removed the pan from heat, and over the sink, he carefully but quickly poured in an equal amount of water, producing a large amount of steam. When the danger zone had subsided, he returned the mixture to a burner reduced to medium low, and began to stir vigorously as the mixture boiled. Ellan’s helpers in the kitchen were advised to stir the caramel mixture on the stove until it had reduced and thickened by about 1/3rd in the pan. At this time we also preheated the oven to 400 degrees, and prepared a large disposable metal tray as a water bath for the pudim to sit in while in baking.
Condensed sweetened milk,
regular milk, 2 eggs
As we stirred, Ellan began to prepare the custard. Into a large blender, he poured 2 little cans of sweetened condensed milk. He next took one of these emptied cans, and filled it to the top with regular whole milk, repeating the process a second time. With the two cans of condensed milk and the two cans of regular milk, he added two eggs, and about 2 ¼ tablespoons of corn starch, though I can’t be precisely sure as he was eyeballing some of these measurements. With all parties present in the blender, he turned the device on high and advised that about fifteen seconds should render the mixture smooth. He went on to recommend singing “one little two little three little Indians” in timing the appropriate count for the custard mixture to be ready. (What a charming teacher!)
Ready to be covered and
put into the oven
With the custard smooth, it was time to prepare the pan. He took one of of those deep tin pans with the characteristic dip in the center that produces the flan "donut" shape, and added the caramel that we had a prepared in a way that dripped all of the sauce smoothly around all inner surfaces of the flan pan. He then poured in the custard, and tightly covered with tin foil, at last placing the pan, foil-side up into the water bath that we had prepared earlier. Into the oven she goes.
Look at Ellan go!
About 45 minutes later, Allan pulled the pudim out of the oven, and checked on the firmness of the dessert. A few forks inserted into the custard proved firm enough. To speed along the cooling/firming process, he removed the pan from the water, quickly dried it off, and immediately stuck the pan into the freezer so that when it was time for the pudim to have it’s big moment, and be turned over onto a serving platter, it would be cool enough to retain its shape.
Beautiful pudim
After our feast of rice, moqueca, and salpicão, the moment came. Ellan turned over the tin pan onto a platter to reveal the most delightfully jiggly pudim, kissed on the top with that luscious deep brown caramel sauce that he had taken such care in preparing. The sides faded way to the golden milky custard, all the way to the smooth bottom edges. This was a lovely looking dessert; it’s appearance and the drama of the revelation only trumped by the flavor of that smooth, silky, rich and eggy custard, and the slightly burnt sugar sweetness that everyone loves in a great rich caramel.
I am very grateful having been introduced to this dish and will have to make it again for Easter… you know when I’m officially allowed to appease my inner fat kid and go all in on desserts again.
Thank you, Ellan, for a wonderful lesson, and a fantastically memorable meal.

Breaking Lent never tasted so
very delicious
For the caramel:
¾ cup of white sugar
¾ cup of water
For the custard:
2 little cans condensed milk
2 little can fulls (w/ emptied condensed milk can) of regular whole milk
2 eggs
2 ¼ tablespoons of corn starch

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