As I was growing up it and lived in Venezuela everyone in my family had a dish they were known for. My Mom would make her pernil or arroz (verde, amarillo, con gandules), My Grandmother the hallacas and my Tia Manina the quesillo y ponque.
I don’t think my Mom ever attempted to make quesillo, the Venezuelan version of flan, that most of us grew up eating along a slice of cake at every party, family reunion, School or Holiday Party. Torta con quesillo.
In my family my Manina’s quesillo has ruled for as long as I can remember.
Thing is she lives in Caracas and my sister and I are in Miami and this Thanksgiving I felt someone should continue with the quesillo tradition in our family. This is an honor I normally would have bestowed upon my sister but seeing as she was already taking care of the turkey and dinner was at her house…well, you get it.
Quesillo was mine to make.
And dear friend, since we’ve known each other for a little while now and I don’t think you’ll dump me – I’ll let you know that I am disaster in the kitchen. Ojo! The final result will probably be good and tasty but the process is a nightmare. Consider yourself lucky you don’t get to see pots and pans flying or hear me scream MotherLOVER! as the desperation of not having the correct ingredients handy overcomes me.
Armed with my condensed milk, eggs, whole, milk, vanilla, a flanera and sugar I waited until Thursday to make quesillo for the first time.
First surprise: I only bought a 12 oz container of sugar. I had already used 1 cup of sugar for a cheesecake. First step for Quesillo was to make caramel that called for 1 cup (8oz) of sugar.
Oh, well! I added what sugar I had to the flanera (yes, I bought one) and added 1 cup of water. Wait. What? That couldn’t be right, that’s not what it looked like in the picture. This was just plain water.
In true I Love Lucy Style I knocked on my neighbors door and asked for a cup of sugar. Plus in true 2011 style I ran to Facebook and had a little venting session. My sister and my cousin Gustavo (who lives in Malta) came to the rescue. He even sent me a link to a YouTube video on how to make caramel with 1/4 cup of sugar in the microwave.
I tend to exaggerate, but I am being honest when I tell you I spent about an hour and half making caramel. Pouring more and more sugar into the flanera. Desperate ’cause Publix was closed and too embarrassed to ask my vecina for another cup. Lucky at the end of the day I was able to salvage some of the caramel (hasta lo cole mi gente!) and the rest of the process seemed to go smoothly.
When we took it out of the flanera at my sister’s house this is what it looked like:
After taking a bite my sister smiled and said “It’s good…but it tastes like flan not quesillo!”
I later realized I only used 4 eggs when the recipe calls for 5 and cooked it for 1 hr when it said 1/2.
And that friends is why this holiday season I will be practicing quesillo making every motherloving weekend and you are more than welcome to stop by and try it!
In case you are wondering I ended up using my cousin’s Maria Antoniota’s maternal grandmother’s recipe.
Quesillo de la Tata (con modificaciones)
1 14 oz. Can Condensed milk
14 oz. Whole milk (measure in the condensed milk can)(or a can of evaporated milk)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla (I used organic which to me tastes a bit diff. not so sweet)
1 Tablespoon Sotol (you can use rum, Sotol was all we had)
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon water
Or follow this Youtube microwave easy recipe
What to do?
First make the caramel and cover the flanera/container with it. (You’ll probably do this better than me!)
Next? Throw the rest of the ingredients (eggs, condensed milk, milk, vanilla and optional rum) in the blender.
Pour mix into the flanera and cover.
Place it in the oven a baño maria for 45 minutes.
Very important – let it cool before taking it out of the flanera
Eat it! Or better yet – go to Caracas and eat Manina’s
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= n. In Venezuela a slightly watered down black coffee. Commonly served after meals and a great companion to conversations.
Go Pink, Have a Guayoyo