Flan is a dessert consisting of custard with a layer of caramel, similar to French crème caramel; it is well-known internationally from being served at many Mexican restaurants. Another Mexican custardy dessert is jericalla, equally delicious, but unfairly not as famous as flan, even in Mexico, where it is mostly found regionally, in the state of Jalisco.
My sister and my brother in-law were recently there, visiting their daughter and their son in-law, and took the photos below, showing jericalla on the dessert menu, along with flan and cake (photo left), and a sample of jericalla, on bird’s eye view (photo right):
The characteristic golden brown top is not from the addition of caramel, as in flan, and also not from sprinkling and burning sugar on top, as in French crème brûlée, but from the browning of the custard itself during baking, or sometimes from broiling.
Jalisco Style Custard – Jericallas
Ingredients (for 7 portions)
2 cups whole cow’s milk
1 cup evaporated milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 stick cinnamon, preferably Mexican (Ceylon), but any kind may be used
2 egg yolks (save egg whites for another recipe)
Place milks, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a pot over medium/high heat. Cook, stirring, until warm and foamy, but not boiling (photo below, left). Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking for five minutes; remove pot from heat, and allow to cool down for about twenty minutes to half an hour. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks with a whisk, then slowly pour into the cooled milk mix, beating gently with the whisk (photo below, right):
Preheat oven to 400 ºF (200°C).
Strain the mix with a fine mesh, to remove any egg clumps, and cinnamon chunks (photo below, left). Arrange seven ramekins in a baking tray with rim; I used four glass ramekins and three foil moulds (the latter very convenient to give away). Divide the mix amongst them (photo below, right):
Carefully fill the baking tray halfway with hot water, avoiding pouring water in the ramekins:
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, checking doneness by getting a clean toothpick after inserting in the centre of one of the jericallas:
Some of the jericallas in my batch browned nicely after 40 minutes, but others were set, yet not browned:
I am not sure if it was because of the position in the tray, because they were in foil moulds, or because those were shorter than the glass ramekins. At any rate, any jericallas that are set, but not browned, may be returned to the oven for a few minutes, under the broiler, just until they turn golden brown.
Allow to cool down to room temperature, then cover and chill in the refrigerator until serving time, for up to two days.
These custardy treats are the perfect sweet ending for any meal, and look so tempting at the table:
The golden brown exterior makes a crispy contrast with the creamy and rich texture inside:
Jericallas are a crowd pleaser, and so easy to make that, when a dessert is needed to complete any menu, preparing a batch in a jiffy allows even the most mercurial cooks to relax, especially during this holiday season. Hallelujah!
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