Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Summer That Never Was


Summer where are you? I checked under my bed and you weren't there, I checked under the rug and in between the couch but you weren't there. I looked through the drawers and even through my dirty laundry but alas you were nowhere to be found. Who has stolen our summer away?

After weeks of continual rain and this freak of nature that has turned some parts of our city into a state of emergency, many are starting to wonder what ever happened to summer. The official start of the summer season was supposed to be the beginning of this month, but since then I can only recall one perfectly sunny day and that was my birthday. If only there was a way of willing summer back by clicking my heels three times like Dorothy but it looks like the wet and at times kooky weather is going to continue on for a few more weeks.


Oh how I miss summer. The summer berries and stone fruits are back but the weather to accompany them somehow absent. It just doesn't seem right to go through a pile of berries, looking out your window at a grey sky. It just isn't Sydney without the incapacitating heat and the sun beating down at you with the force of a thousand flames. As much as I love to complain about the heat, I really would like the humidity and the sun-stroke inducing weather back.

But either way grey skies or blue, I think I will probably grumble either way. So in an effort not to be such a whiner, I decided to get into the bleak and cold weather with a dessert that's more a wintry treat than a summer delight. Sweet Potato Flan. How thanksgiving is that?


There's nothing that says hibernating in the dead of a cold winter than a sweet potato, there's something about its sweet starchiness that screams out comfort food. So what better way than to revel in all this cold weather and the advent of Christmas than with this flan. Similar to a Filipino dessert called leche flan this sweet potato flan is made in the same way.

I've been cooking from a lot of blogs lately, and it's no surprise that this recipe came from Meeta's blog, I've been gleaning ideas from this girl for some time now as her site is a trove for all things delicious. I've always wanted to make a dessert using sweet potato although I never wanted to turn it into a pie, so the flan was the perfect idea.


At first I was quite apprehensive in incorporating sweet potato into a perfectly good creme caramel recipe. Why ruin a good thing? But there's no taking away from the dessert, it can truly stand on its own. The taste is quite subtle and there's no glaring sweet potato flavour staring in you in the face. It's not to sweet and it's not too rich. It's actually incredibly smooth and refreshing.

And if you're looking to add just a little summery touch to these flans, then go ahead and add some berries to the flan. I decided to go with some redcurrants I had lying around the tangy bite of the redcurrants pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the flan.

Sweet Potato Flan

Recipe from this blog
Serves 6


400 g sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into thick slices
juice of one lime
190g sugar - divided in half
2 tbsp water
240 ml milk
4 large eggs
125ml whipping cream
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp tawny Port
fresh redcurrants, to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Place the thick potato slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the flesh becomes soft enough for mashing, making sure they do not become too dark.
Put the slices in a food processor and add the lime juice; puree until smooth.
Reduce oven temperature to 180°C.
Strain pureed sweet potato through a fine meshed sieve to get it really smooth.
Stir half of the sugar and 2 tbsp water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to high and boil without stirring, until the syrup turns a deep amber color, occasionally swirling the pan. This should take about 5 minutes.
Immediately pour caramel into small ramekin bowls or one larger oven-proof dish.
Save about 2 tablespoons caramel in saucepan.
Swirl each ramekin form around, allowing caramel to coat bottom and about 1cm up the sides.
Add the milk to the remaining caramel in saucepan. This will cause the caramel to solidify but don't worry keep stirring over medium-low heat until the caramel dissolves.
Whisk eggs in another bowl until frothy.
Whisk in cream, salt, sweet potato puree, and remaining sugar.
Gradually whisk in hot milk-caramel mixture then strain back into same saucepan.
Stir over medium heat for about 1 minute.
Remove from heat; whisk in Port.
Pour custard into prepared ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of ramekin forms.
Bake until just set in centre, about 30-45 minutes. (If you find the top getting too dark place a sheet of baking paper over the tops.)
Remove flans from water.
Chill until cold for about 5 hours or overnight.

Just before serving dip each ramekin bowl into a pan of hot water for about 15 seconds. Wipe dry.
Invert onto serving plates; serve with redcurrants if desired.


Meeta K. Wolff said...

WILD! Glad you liked it. Isn't the flavor a pleasant surprise? Hehehe! It's funny how apprehensive people were when I told them about the sweet potato flan - but the taste says it 1000 times over - it's brilliant.

Cheryl said...

Beautiful flan. That is another thing I have never tried. I am a big fan of the Fall, so unfortunately I was happy to see summer go.

Dana said...

The weather has been crazy in my neck of the woods too! It's supposed to be winter, and yet the temperature has been up, down and all over the place. But sweet potatoes are definitely in season here, so I'll have to give this a try!

Anonymous said...

Talk about freaks of nature, I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. It's usually 30-40 degrees during December. However, today has a high of 80! Plus, we haven't really had rain in, I think, 3 months, so we are under a severe drought warning.

Crazy mother nature!

Explorations in Life

Unknown said...

Hello Dear!!I am from other part of Earth and I never taste sweet-potato cake!!I have lot of sweet potatoes in my backyard and I will try this recipe!!If you are interesting in mine recipes please visit my blog http;// See you and Regards from Croatia

Anonymous said...

I love this recipe!!! So yummy !!!
And great pics... :-)
Merry Christmas and goodbye from Italy...


Cris said...

Ahah, Summer does not want to show up here either... it's been raining! This looks so good!!! I love flans, oh, you might like the Brazilian flan on my blog I posted long time ago.

Graeme said...

Everything you do is done with such a delicate hand, Jen. I really love the look of this.

I just spent a good half an hour trawling through your Cookies section - Stunning.

test it comm said...

That looks really good. A sweet potato flan sounds pretty interesting.

food makes me happy said...

Is there any way that I have have a bite of this yummy dessert?

Peabody said...

What a stunning color.

Suzana Parreira said...

I love sweet potato but not in my wildest dreams would I use it in a Flan! These one, I'll have to try to believe it!

Lovely presentation - nice, nice colours.

Freya said...

Beautiful photos! I love the idea of a flan using sweet potato and my husband adores flan too, so this one is a keeper!

Aimée said...

I'll take a slice of sweet potato pie over pumpkin any day, so why not flan? It looks lovely and light; hopefully the weather eases up for you soon.

Hillary said...

Jeez. Not only is that unique because of its flavor but that looks like some of the best and perfectly textured flan I have ever seen!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

summer is long-gone around here - I WAS asking, "where did winter go?" but now I regret asking that, since it's a freezing blizzard outside :0(

wow, Meeta's flan recipe turned out terrific-looking!!

Chef Jeena said...

Hi JenJen your blog is lovely! This recipe sounds delicious and looks wonderful, great recipe. Jeena :-)

PinkCakeBox said...

Love the photography on your blog. You make everything look extra delicious!

Katy said...

Looks great! Flan is on my list of things to try in the next month or two!

Half Baked said...

The weather where I live has been just as unusual. It should be winter but has been summerlike warm...weird. Anyway love the flan, just beautiful!

Eugenia Gina said...

I found this blog via google, and I'm glad I'd found it! Your photos is fabulous.. thanks for sharing!

isabella said...

I linked you immediately 'cause you blog is so nice, if you don't mind I can get some recipe and adapt to italian ingredients

Wind said...

Oh no, I hope your summer will not be liked the one I have in England this year - all the strewsberries were failed to grow!

Orchidea said...

It looks absolutely delicious!

kimmy said...

Hey Jen, I think Melbourne weather is just as unpredictable. Sunny, hot, humid, just can't bloody decide. But that flan OMG! Give me that to eats summer, winter, autumn or spring please. lovely as always

desie said...

i'm with you re the weather. good for staying indoors and getting on with the Christmas baking, though.
this flan sounds very interesting. it's been bookmarked! lovely pix.

isabella said...

Here in Venice is very cold and sunny and we are baking for Christmas too....

Linda said...

yum i've been craving sweet potato everything lately. sweet potato fries mostly... i'll have to try this next. thanks for the recipe. love the photos!

Rachael said...

This looks very interesting. I'll be honest that I have a hard time imagining what it tastes like, but I'll have to try this next time I have sweet potatoes.

And I sympathize about the weather! Here in CT, we have a cycle going: snow, rain, ice, snow rain, ice, etc. I wish it would get below 32 and just stay put!

Anonymous said...

Where is summer, indeed?! We had a short burst of it in Canberra in November, but it's not been seen since. :(

I stumbled across your blog whilst googling a raspberry friand recipe. Your photos are delicious and being a bit of a foodie myself, I've added you to my faves.

I'll be back! Merry Christmas!

sweeetheartfever said...

i'm so happy that you DID incorporate sweet potato into this dessert! this looks amazing. (im terribly addicted to anything with sweet potatoes in it...)

Beautiful work!