Food & Drink

Bite of Brazil: Christmas south of the equator is sunny and bright and full of flan

Brazilian flan, made by Alexandra Olsen, on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Brazilian flan, made by Alexandra Olsen, on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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By Alexandra Olsen

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning. You roll out of bed and immediately put on your favorite swimsuit and begin to lather yourself with sunscreen.

You eat a light breakfast before quickly grabbing your beach towel and rushing off to catch up with your family, who have already set up camp somewhere along a white sand beach and begun their long day of lounging under beach umbrellas and taking dips in the crystal clear water.

Yes, Christmas traditions look a little different south of the equator.

This is how I remember many of my childhood Christmases, sun, surf and late-night Christmas dinners, where the best part was always the dessert.

For this special edition of the “Bite of Brazil” column, I thought I’d share my family’s recipe for a crowd-pleasing dessert that can be seen not only at Christmas in Brazil but at many social gatherings, Pudim.

Otherwise known as Brazilian flan, this decadent dish is the epitome of a great Brazilian dessert. It is rich, creamy and satisfying without being dense and heavy. Perfectly sweetened thanks to a defining ingredient of Brazilian confectionaries, sweetened condensed milk.

It is hard for me to imagine a family gathering where a good Pudim is not present. I think this is because it is such a universally loved dessert. Although the recipe may seem involved on first pass, you’ll be sure to find yourself making it again and again. If not just to watch your family come back for seconds ... or even thirds.

Whether there is a blanket of snow or dunes of sand outside your window this December, Pudim is a cold dish that is sure to warm up your holiday menu.

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Follow Alexandra Olsen on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.

Recipe

Pudim (Brazilian flan)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

14 ounces milk

3 organic eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, caramelize the pan. You can use a regular cake pan or a flan mold. Place your chosen pan over high heat and add in sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar melts completely and is the color of honey. Add in water and continue to stir until mixture is smooth again. Move the pan around so the caramel covers the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you complete the next step. Note: Do not, under any circumstances, touch the hot sugar with your bare skin.

In a blender, combine condensed milk, milk (use the condensed milk can to measure this) and three organic eggs, which you can find at Indian Creek Nature Center. Blend until smooth.

Pour mixture into caramelized pan and cover with tin foil.

Place the pan into a larger pan and add warm water to the larger pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the counter for about one hour, then put in the refrigerator overnight.

Before serving, place over a warm burner for a few seconds to help with unmolding. If needed, run a knife along the edges of the flan before placing a plate over the mold and flipping.

Serve chilled.

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