Leche flan with gingerbread crumbs


  • Serves 8 people

  • 440 gm (2 cups) white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, bean discarded (or reserved, if desired)
  • 50 ml dry sherry
  • 750 ml (3 cups) milk
  • Gingerbread crumbs
  • 130 gm plain flour
  • ½ tsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 60 gm butter, softened
  • 45 gm caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 90 gm (¼ cup) blackstrap molasses (see note)
01   For gingerbread crumbs, sift dry ingredients (except sugar) and ½ tsp each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper together and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add egg yolk and beat until combined. Add molasses, beat to combine, then add sifted ingredients and stir until just combined. Form dough into a square, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 180C. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick and transfer to a lightly greased and baking paper-lined oven tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Cool, then break into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form.
02   Reduce oven to 120C. Place eight ¾ cup-capacity (1.5cm-deep) moulds in a roasting pan. Combine 1 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves, then increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes or until golden caramel. Divide among moulds and cool until set.
03   Whisk together whole eggs and egg yolks, remaining sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl, add sherry and milk and gently stir to prevent bubbles forming, then divide among prepared moulds. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of moulds, cover with 2 sheets of foil and bake for 1 hour or until just set. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold. Serve leche flans scattered with gingerbread crumbs.
Note Blackstrap molasses is available from the health food section of supermarkets and health food stores.
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