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Culinary SOS: Border Grill's goat milk cajeta flan

By Noelle Carter, Los Angeles Times

June 9, 2011

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Dear SOS: Had an amazing goat milk flan at Border Grill downtown. Even chatted briefly with Susan Feniger, but unfortunately that was before dessert. I'm not usually a big flan person, but I loved the tang and the interplay between that tang and the rich sweetness of the caramel. Truly unexpected and fantastic twist on a traditional dish. Can you help get me the recipe?

Mark Lemke

Los Angeles

Dear Mark: I totally agree! This flan is amazingly smooth and creamy with a delicately firm texture, balancing its rich caramel topping with a bright if subtle, unexpected tang from the goat milk in the custard base. Border Grill was happy to share its recipe, which we've adapted below.

Border Grill's goat milk cajeta flan


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Total time: 2½ hours

Servings: 12 to 18

Note: Adapted from Border Grill. This recipe requires a 10-inch cake pan.

Caramel base and sauce

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. In a medium saute pan, combine the sugar with one-half cup water. Add the lemon juice and heat the pan over medium-high heat. Do not stir the pan as the sugar melts and starts to bubble; this can cause the sugar to become lumpy and crystallize. If the sugar crystallizes, you will have to start over.

2. Once the sugar begins to turn a rich brown, gently swirl the caramel by moving the handle of the pan. Continue to cook the caramel until it is a rich, dark brown. Keep in mind that the caramel will look darker in the pan than it actually is. Be careful not to overcook the caramel, or it will blacken and burn.

3. As soon as the caramel is ready, remove it from the heat and pour the caramel into a 10-inch cake pan to coat the bottom of the pan. Swirl the cake pan to coat the bottom evenly.

4. Place the cake pan on a flat surface and set aside until the caramel is cool.

Flan assembly

2 quarts plus 1¼ cups goat milk, divided

1 1/2 cups plus 2½ tablespoons sugar, divided

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

6 whole eggs

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup powdered milk

Caramel-lined cake pan

Caramel sauce

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a heavy-bottom pot, bring 2 quarts of goat milk to a simmer. Cook until it is reduced to 3 cups. Stir in 1 cup plus 2½ tablespoons sugar and continue to cook until the milk is again reduced to 3 cups.

3. Remove the milk from the heat and strain it through a very fine strainer into a clean pot. Stir in the remaining goat milk and the heavy cream.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Whisk in the remaining one-half cup sugar and the milk powder. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs to temper, whisking constantly.

5. Strain the mixture through a very fine strainer into the caramel-lined pan.

6. Prepare a hot water bath: Place the pan inside a larger roasting pan, and fill the roasting pan with hot water until the water comes halfway up the side of the cake pan.

7. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven and bake until the center of the flan feels barely firm and the overall flan feels slightly loose but not watery (it will jiggle), 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes (do not overcook the flan; it will continue to set up as it cools). Gently rotate the pan halfway through baking for even coloring.

8. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and gently remove the cake pan from the hot water bath. Place the cake pan on a rack to cool slightly, then refrigerate until cold. When the flan is cold, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and store until ready to serve, 2 to 3 days.

9. To serve the flan, unwrap the pan and gently invert the cold flan onto a large dish or cake stand, tapping the pan to remove it (if the flan won't come out of the pan, rest the pan in a large pan of hot water for a minute or two to loosen). Serve the flan with the caramel sauce.

Each of 18 servings: 297 calories; 5 grams protein; 44 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 12 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 170 mg cholesterol; 44 grams sugar; 61 mg sodium.

SOS REQUESTS: Send Culinary SOS requests to noelle.carter@latimes.com or Culinary SOS, Food section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, phone number and city of residence.