I hadn’t planned to husk corn in May, but I wanted to try the Sweet Corn Flan recipe that Dara Moskowitz-Grumdahl included in her post about the Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook. It’s not corn season, but I’m planning a few dinners for friends and when the dinners are multi-course, I like to practice dishes before serving them.
What stirred my curiosity about this flan recipe from Restaurant Alma’s Chef Alex Roberts was the tiny amount of cream, only half a cup, with seven eggs. I typically have made savory flans with about 4 eggs/cup of cream. I wondered how much liquid I could get out of the corn and how small the flans would be. The recipe said it served six. I was dubious. I made two versions: the recipe as printed and another version with eight eggs and two cups of cream.
I have a makeshift chinois. Despite my love of kitchen tools (cut to scene of wife rolling eyes) I’ve managed with a fine mesh strainer and the back of a large spoon. With this combination I was able to get only about ten ounces of strained batter from Chef Roberts’s flan. A better tool for straining the corn would have been a tamis (drum sieve) and now I have a valid excuse to finally buy one.
I expect fresh local corn to puree better, but if you’re going to make six flan, they will be small. Strive for at least 12 ounces of strained batter for six servings. Two ounce servings are quite rich.
For Chef Roberts’s version I pureed everything together in a blender. It was very thick and my blender was very unhappy. For my version, I pureed the corn and cream and added the eggs to the blender after I had a good puree.
The original recipe leaves the seasoning up to the cook. For both versions of the flan, I used a ½ tsp of cumin (toasted and ground) and ½ tsp of salt. The cumin was very subtle. Truffle oil is extremely potent and too much would have been overwhelming. I found 2-3 drops sufficient.
Unmolding the flan can be unnerving. I tested some ramekins with parchment rounds on the bottom. I unmolded some the same day and some the next day after refrigeration. All of the ones with rounds came out of fine. Some without a parchment round that I unmolded the same day stuck. The next day they all came out fine after a brief stint in hot water. If you’re making the two ounce version, use smaller ramekins. The flan won’t fall as far when you unmold it.
I covered the pan to bring the water up to temperature faster and in the case of the corn flan it prevented the top from drying out and turning a darker yellow than the bottom.
I enjoyed the minimal approach to cream in Chef Roberts’s recipe (photo right). The focus should be on the corn. My version (bottom photo) had a creamier texture. I was surprised that the extra one and a half cups of cream didn’t diminish the corn flavor as much as I had anticipated.
Once fresh corn is available, I’ll be curious to see how much volume I can strain out of it. If you don’t have fresh corn, I don’t think adding another ½ cup of cream to Chef Roberts’s recipe will damage it. Or you could add more corn. That’s the beauty of this recipe. You have a wide range of egg/cream to suit your taste. Both versions are extremely rich. Depending on the number of courses, the two ounce version is great as a starter or first course. I wouldn’t make one bigger than four ounces or you might have to garnish it with Lipitor.
There it sits. Corn flan. All by itself. Tasty, but if I want to serve this for dinner with friends I’m going to have to compose a dish. I could opt for vegetarian or add shrimp or duck. Maybe some cheese or tomatoes or red bell peppers, or … something else? I’m happy to have some time before the local corn arrives. Does anyone have any thoughts about how to dress it up?