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This quivering caramel rice flan from Catalonia is something to behold

This Catalonian caramel flan is unlike your average rice pudding. Firstly its made with Arborio rice and secondly it’s scented with the wonderful flavours of cardamom, cinnamon and lemon; a quivering delight that’s both rich and light, a weekend treat of sweet custard, caramel and soft rice that needs time, patience and love to make.

Ingredients (serves 8 – 10)
130 g Arborio rice
1.25 l milk
2 cinnamon sticks
1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom
267 g sugar
2 tsp cardamom pods, cracked with the side of a knife
180 ml heavy cream
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
Grated zest of 1 lemon
0.25 tsp salt
Butter or cooking spray for the soufflé dish

Directions
Heat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Lightly butter, or use cooking spray, on a 1.5 litre soufflé dish (preferably nonstick). In a medium saucepan, bring 470 ml water to a boil. Stir in rice and cook for 15 minutes. Drain, then add rice to a medium saucepan with 950 ml of the milk, the cinnamon sticks and the ground cardamom. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the rice is very tender. Drain away any milk that has not been absorbed, then put rice into a medium bowl and stir in the lemon zest.

For the custard, combine the remaining milk, cardamom pods and the cream in a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat. When that’s done whisk together the eggs, yolks, salt and 70 g of the sugar in a medium bowl. When the milk mixture comes to a simmer, slowly ladle it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the pan (discarding cardamom), then stir in the rice.

To make the caramel you need to be decisive. In a heavy small saucepan stir together the remaining sugar and 60 ml water and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat for 5 – 8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture turns a honey – amber shade. Immediately pour into the soufflé dish, swirling to make sure the caramel coats about 3/4 of the height of the dish.

Without waiting for the caramel to harden, immediately pour the rice mixture into the caramel – coated soufflé dish. Fill a large roasting pan halfway with very hot tap water and place the soufflé dish in the roasting pan. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and punch several holes in the foil in the corners of the roasting pan. Place the pan in the centre of the oven and bake for about 2 hours (start checking after 1 hour and 45 minutes) or until the custard is set around the edges but the centre has a slight wobble. Remove dish from the water bath, cool on a rack, then refrigerate until set and cold, at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.

To serve, place the soufflé dish in a large bowl filled with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the soufflé dish. Let stand for 20 minutes, dry the bottom of the soufflé dish, then run a knife around the edge of the custard and turn it out onto a platter. (It will stick and not look picture perfect.) slice and serve making sure to top each rice wobble heaven with its own caramel sauce.

You will be loved.

Thanks to the brilliant food writer Melissa Clark from the NYT for this recipe