It is a common misconception in the United States that Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico commemorating their independence. No es verdad. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in and around the state of Puebla and very few other places in Mexico, commemorating their underdog defeat of French troops in 1862 in the battle of Puebla. Here’s the thing: I don’t care. It is a great excuse to eat Mexican food, which I love love love. And I’ve been obsessed with food this week anyway.
I could eat crispy fried machaca (shredded) beef tacos for every meal. And then I would look like this:
And surprisingly, I am very nearly okay with that. So anyway, let’s cut to the chase…dessert. I am just going to put it out there: I never liked flan. I thought it was disgusting pudding with brown ooze. I had it all wrong. It is the richest crème custard imaginable, cooked gently in a baña María (otherwise known as a water bath, or bain Marie…but this is Cinco de Mayo, amigos) in a pan that has been treated to a coating of caramelized-sugar-turned-hard-candy, so that it soaks in just the littlest bit, and then leaves this lovely caramel syrup to drizzle over the top.
I like to eat flan in a restaurant, but I have to tell you, that my own homemade flan is about ten times better. I usually burn myself at least once in the process of caramelizing the sugar and coating the pan in it, but it is so totally worth it. The recipe I am including steeps some fresh vanilla bean in the cream. You don’t have to do that…you can use pure vanilla extract. But the little flecks of vanilla add a fun texture and appearance, as well as flavor. I like to cut it up into one-inch cubes of sin and serve it in a bowl with whipped cream and sliced strawberries…and then drizzle some extra caramel over the top. Oh, and then hide in the pantry with a spoon, eating the hard candy sugar caramel off the sides of the pan. I already embarrassed myself with this earlier today. I coated the pans in caramel right before I had to pick up Skippy from kindergarten...and on my way out the door, I spotted that big wooden spoon covered in ribbons of golden sugar candy. It was like a grown-up lollipop. I drove to the school with it in my mouth. Seriously...no impulse control.
Now, go try this at home. You don’t have to make it on Cinco de Mayo. After all, as I already pointed out, it is kind of a fake holiday anyway. I can’t post an acutal photo of my flan yet, as it has to chill for at least another five or six more hours... Oh! and my apologies to the sensitive among you, for posting a swimsuit photo. We should all love our bodies, people.