John Kanell recommends a simple holiday dessert that any cook can master, interview

Dulce de Leche flan from John Kanell and The Incredible Egg, photo provided by The Incredible Egg
Dulce de Leche flan from John Kanell and The Incredible Egg, photo provided by The Incredible Egg /

During the holiday season, many people step into the kitchen and yearn to bake masterful desserts. While the dream of recreating that culinary competition stunning dish might be a touch lofty, the reality is that a simple holiday dessert is one that anyone can accomplish. With the help from John Kanell of Preppy Kitchen fame and the Incredible Egg, the sweet ending to a meal will get cheers all around.

Sometimes holiday baking can be a little too ambitious. Although many people may enjoy a perfectly flakey croissant, mastering that French pastry takes tremendous skill. It might be better to focus on a dessert that is easier to master,

During a recent conversation with John Kanell, he offered some simple advice and a tasty dessert idea that can make the holidays a little less stressful and a lot more joyful. For John, it starts before even stepping into the kitchen. John mentioned that the holidays can come with higher expectations. But, the idea is to spend time with friends and family, not worrying about the perfect dessert.

Specifically, John mentioned that one thing that can keep everyone on track is to plan things out. Picking a few items to prep ahead of time can avoid that stress on the big day. In some ways, that simple concept is the basis of Preppy Kitchen. Prep work is the foundation to any successful bake.

While some people might try to bake a pie from scratch or stack a tower of cakes, John recommends a simple holiday dessert, a flan. He describes the flavors as melting in your mouth in the most delightful way.

simple holiday dessert featuring Incredible Egg
Dulce de Leche Flan, a simple holiday dessert, photo provided by Incredible Egg /

Although flan might look like a difficult dessert to master, John said that making flan is easy. He said to start by mixing sugar and water to make a caramel. When the mixture reaches a beautiful amber color, it is ready to be poured into an 8 inch pan. Making the caramel might be the hardest part. When making a caramel, it should always be done under a watchful eye so that it does not cook too much.

Then, it is time to make the custard. John combines dulce de leche, five whole eggs, evaporated milk, cream, and a pinch of salt. The key is not to over mix the custard. The idea is to create a “homogeneous silky mixture” but not add too much air into the custard.

John cautions that home cooks should avoid overmixing the custard. Gently folding the ingredients is vital. In this case, it might be time to keep the stand mixer off. The idea is to create a smooth mixer with fewer air bubbles.

When the mixture comes together, simply pour it into the pan with the caramel. Then bake in a water bath to ensure even cooking.

And, John said that a simple 8 inch cake pan works. There is no need to purchase a specialty pan for the occasion. Again, the idea is to keep things simple for holiday baking.

When it is time to serve, simply invert the pan. The luscious flan with its beautiful caramel is a simple holiday dessert that everyone will want to enjoy.

Even though pies, cakes and cookies might fill the dessert table, a flan is a simple holiday dessert that even a novice baker can master. Plus, it is a flavor that everyone will have everyone raving.