Flan al Caramelo

The menu I chose is from La Mallorquina restaurant in San Juan Puerto Rico. This menu is a blend of Puerto Rican and Spanish cuisine particularly, the cuisine of Palma de Mallorca dated December 24, 1958. That’s why they called their restaurant La Mallorquina, which translated into English means “the woman of Mallorca”. From the menu of 73 dishes, I want to focus my research on the dessert, “Flan al Caramelo”. This restaurant is still famous today and what better place to have an authentic Puerto Rican meal than at its oldest restaurant. As you finish reading this piece, you can taste old San Juan P.R.

http://menus.nypl.org/menus/28465

This is big during this time because Puerto Ricos’ population has grown significantly. Up to 1.5 million people were living in Puerto Rico. Keeping in mind that a lot was happening in PR during the mid-1800s such as slavery, Spanish American War, and the rebellion. The original interior decor of La Mallorquina has been preserved as well as the two rooms that segregated whites from the rest of the patrons. The La Mallorquina is an example of a nineteenth-century architectural trend, small cafes where people could mingle and dine. The original interior decor of La Mallorquina has been preserved as well as the two rooms that segregated whites from the rest of the patrons.

La Mallorquina - Picture of La Mallorquina, Puerto Rico - Tripadvisor
Dining area - La Mallorquina - Picture of La Mallorquina, Puerto Rico -  Tripadvisor

From Spain to Puerto Rico and Beyond

When you look at photos of New Orleans and San Juan together, it’s hard to deny the similarities. The architectural style, vibrant colors, galleries overlooking the streets, and even the layouts of portions of the cities themselves are all a testament to their shared history. Both cities feature a rich culture that mixes native, African, and Spanish influences.

 
Tying everything together, I will be making Flan al Caramelo, following the recipe by  “Salima Benkhalti” and also with the help of Tik-Tok. I also added a New Orleans twist to it. I began with my ingredients. 6 eggs, Evaporated Milk, Butter, Vanilla Puree, Ground Nutmeg, Sugar, and Cinnamon. I started to follow the recipe, but instead, I just said forget it and started adding things to the blender. The reason I added nutmeg and cinnamon was because I felt it was missing something and also who doesn’t like nutmeg and cinnamon to their dessert. I was able to buy all ingredients at Robert’s and everything was easy to find. All the ingredients were pretty basic, typically people have these items in their house.

The next step in this task was to figure out the measurements. Given the fact that I’m from the south, people usually just eyeball the measurements needed for cooking and baking. This step could be a gift and a curse for people who don’t typically cook or bake, your Flan will go downhill very fast. Once I was satisfied with the texture and the taste, I added my ingredients to the blender.

The process of me cooking began with me pouring sugar into a pan to make the caramel. Although it was fascinating to watch for the first few minutes, I eventually got bored of staring at a pan of sugar and was tempted to walk away, and I did. I started texting and found myself scrolling through TikTok. I felt everything was “under control”, falling for the trap. In my first attempt at making caramel I burned the sugar. I was having trouble getting the sugar to turn into a sauce, so It took me several attempts to get it right. It took me 15-20 minutes to get the sugar to turn into caramel. To make the caramel, I poured sugar into a pan, and I placed the burner on high heat. This was the hardest step in the process for me because it was prohibiting me from going to the next step. After I made the caramel, I then poured it into a pot, making sure that the caramel is spread evenly throughout the pot. I didn’t anticipate that I would mess up making the caramel. I assumed it would be easy peasy. I then put 6 eggs, a generous amount of sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla puree, and evaporated milk into the blender. When it was finished, it had a loose yellow consistency. I then poured the mixture into the same pot as caramel and baked it in a water bath. I set the oven to 350 degrees and baked it for an hour.

As time went on, an hour passed and the Flan was finally finished. I didn’t think it would come out looking as good as it did but hey, I left it up to god and the oven to help me with the process. As I began to flip it, I ended up messing up one side of the Flan, causing it to break. I didn’t know that it would be so fragile. In my opinion, it was not the best. The texture was off-putting. I’m aware that its base is an egg custard but I thought it would taste more like a cake than a pudding. In all, I probably won’t ever eat Flan again but I’m glad I gave it a try. I brought the Flan to another taste tester, who likes Flan and said it was pretty good and the texture was just right. But they could taste a hint of burnt caramel. Overall, they said it was good for a first attempt.

Although I’m not sure that there is any way that this is the kind of Flan that is made in Puerto Rico at the “La Mallorquina” restaurant, it puts it in perspective of what it would look like during this time and even today. If you like soft silky textures, then this would be delicious but if you don’t care for soft textures, this probably isn’t the best dish to make.

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