This week you'll be exploring an indulgent selection of ingredients for the Filipino leche flan, from the key components of the custard base to what you need to make the wet caramel. Mark introduces the aromatic flavour of pandan explaining how it can be used in a variety of dishes and the coconut milk which he cooks down on the hob to make latik for a textured topping.
Pandan Extract - Nicknamed the "vanilla of the East", pandan is an aromatic leaf related to the lily family and although it is rare to find in the wild, it is widely cultivated across Asia. The essence shares the same main flavour compound as the ones found in popcorn and basmati rice which is why it has a nutty undertone to its sweetness. Just like vanilla, you'll find pandan used in desserts and sweets across much of Asia and India or in savoury dishes, adding flavour to rice for example. Not only is it used for its taste but chefs have also experimented with its green colouring in jellies, drinks and cakes.
Condensed & Evaporated Milk - If you took a sneak peak into the dessert pantry of your average Filipino household, you're bound to find a can of Carnation milk. Carnations Farms was created in America in 1908 when Elbridge Amos Stuart purchased 360 acres of farmland and built his dairy operations around the idea of well treated cows and even banned swearing around the herd. With American colonisation of the Philippines came the arrival of canned food products including condensed milk and evaporated milk. These two ingredients influenced the existing recipe for leche flan creating the richer, denser version enjoyed today.