Pour the maple syrup
in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over low heat, and let simmer until
by a quarter (to 3/4 cup), about 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the cream and salt and stir until the mixture is smooth and comes
back to a simmer.
In a medium bowl,
whisk the egg yolks until smooth, whisk a little of the hot maple cream
into the eggs
to temper them, then pour the mixture into the saucepan with the remaining
cream. Whisk well. Strain
into a bowl and set aside. (The custard can be made up to two days in
advance and refrigerated.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a small saucepan over medium heat,
combine the sugar and water and stir
until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, swirling
occasionally, until it becomes a medium
amber caramel. Immediately pour the caramel into eight 4-ounce glass
or ceramic ramekins, tilting to make
sure the sides are well coated. If the caramel hardens, rewarm it over
Pour the custard
base into the ramekins. Arrange them in a baking pan and place it on
the oven rack.
Pour enough very hot water into the baking pan to reach two-thirds of
the way up the sides of the ramekins.
Cover the baking pan with foil and prick all over with a fork. Bake
the flans for about 45 minutes, and
then lift off the foil to allow the steam to escape. Re-cover the pan
and continue to bake until the flans
are set around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the center, about
45 minutes longer. Transfer flans to
a rack and let cool at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate
To unmold the flans,
run a small knife around the sides of the ramekins, then invert the
Serve with whipped crème fraîche, if desired.
Variation: For one large flan, use a 9-inch glass loaf pan. Bake
for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
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