Apple Flan

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 firm, tart apples (Gala, McIntosh or Granny Smith), peeled, quartered, seeded, and cut into thick wedges
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

For the custard:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups regular or soy milk
3 tablespoons brandy (optional)
Raspberry, strawberry or caramel sauce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. Prepare the apples: Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes; do not let them get mushy. Stir in the brown sugar and lemon zest. Cook until the apples are caramelized, about 2 to 3 more minutes. (The brown sugar and juices should be thick and syrupy.)
  3. Spread the apple mixture over the bottom of the prepared baking dish and set aside.
  4. Make the custard: Process the 3/4 cup sugar and the eggs in a food processor until light and lemon-colored. Add the oil and process until just combined. Add the flour; pulse (repeatedly turn the machine on and off) just until combined. Add the vanilla, milk or soy milk, and, if using, brandy. Pulse just until combined. Pour the custard over the apples.
  5. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the custard is barely set, about 25 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar evenly over the top of the flan, and broil for a few seconds until lightly browned (watch carefully; it burns easily).
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature with a simple raspberry, strawberry or caramel sauce, if desired. Also good with whipped cream.

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