Flan: Easy and Delicious
The Yummiest Desert EVER
Flan dates back to ancient Rome, when Romans first started domesticating chickens and having an excess of eggs. From Rome it spread throughout Europe, with different variations arising in different regions. Flan came to Latin America after Christopher Columbus made his "discovery" of the New World and brought the Spanish culture with him. Dishes made with eggs and milk were considered healthy and were particularly used to build up a person who had "wasted away" from an illness.
I know Flan from my years of traveling through Mexico. Every where you visit in Mexico you can get Flan, but each place makes it differently. After testing many different kinds of Flan, I developed the perfect recipe for a Flan that is creamy,dense, and delicious. There are also a couple of techniques that once learned make Flan easy to make. I'll share it all with you on this lens and show you some quick ways to change the flavor for different times of the year. How about Pumpkin Flan for Thanksgiving, or Kaluah Flan for Christmas, or Coconut Flan for Valentine's Day?
Why I like this recipe
It's better than cake or pie.
If you are allergic to gluten, this is a good alternative.
It's easy to make, yet the results are spectacular.
I'm always struck by how simple ingredients make such a yummy dish.
It's creamy AND dense.
There's something magical about how hard, carmelized sugar turns into syrup!
Some Music to Cook By
The Basic Flan Recipe
Heat oven to 350 Degrees.
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Can Evaporated Milk
2 teaspoons real vanilla
Blend in blender until just mixed. Don't over blend so it has a lot of air in it.
Set aside, while preparing the caramelized sugar.
Carmelized Sugar: Not Dark Enough
This One Is Just Right
The trick is to get it cooked just enough without burning it
The trick to the carmelized sugar is to get it cooked enough for a good flavor. Too light and it doesn't have enough, too dark and it tastes too burnt.
To make carmelized sugar use a cast iron pan over medium heat. (If you don't have a cast iron pan, you can use a regular one but don't heat it first.)
Heat the cast iron pan, then slowly add 1 cup of white sugar. Let the bottom layer of sugar melt without disturbing it. Mix the rest of the sugar into the melted portion until it is all dissolved. Continue to stir the sugar, slowly letting it darken.
Take it off right after it reaches a boil. Sugar will end up lighter than it appears in the pan. Immediately pour liquid sugar into a glass pie dish. Be careful, it is very hot and burns horribly! Quickly rotate the pie dish to distribute the sugar evenly on the bottom and the sides.
Pour in the custard mixture from the blender.
Place in a larger pan with hot water coming half way up the sides.
Cover with aluminum foil but do not seal the edges.
Cook at 350 degrees for an hour. To test for doneness, stick a butter knife in the center. If it comes out clean, it is done. If it is not done, continue cooking. It's hard to overcook Flan...it just gets more dense.
Note: Flan can be made in small custard cups, or other molds but the thickness will change the amount of cooking time.
Get a Cast Iron Pan
These pans last forever and help add iron to your food. Don't use them with acidic foods such as tomatoes. You'll need to cure them by brushing with oil and then baking to prevent rusting in water. To clean, use minimal soap and dry immediately.
Here's one that comes already cured!
Unmolding Your Flan
Let the flan cool. Then refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to eat, let it warm slightly at room temperature for 30 minutes after unmolding it.
Loosen the edges of the flan with a knife. Place a plate with raised edges (to hold the syrup) over the flan, then flip it all QUICKLY! A slow flip will result in very sticky syrup making a mess everywhere!
Flan just gets better overtime, so leftovers are great. It doesn't last too long in our household, though.
The Princess Demonstrates
I found this video really funny. Made by a husband/wife team they reminded me of the characters in My Cousin Vinny. As always, everyone has their own version of how to cook flan but you get a good idea about carmelizing sugar in this video.
That Other Custard
Brulee is the French form of this custard. The sugar is carmelized on top after the custard has cooked.
Two Types of Custard Deserts
Flan has a melted caramlized syrup that bakes slightly into the custard and is liquid upon unmolding. Brulee, which is a similar custard with a slightly different texture is finished off with a sugar topping that is broiled until crunchy. I'll eat Brulee if it's all I can get, but nothing beats a well made Flan.
Flan or Brulee: Which one do you prefer?
Forget Pumpkin Pie, Make This Your Thanksgiving Tradition
Add 1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Follow the rest of the recipe.
Add 2 tablespoons of Kahlua and omit the vanilla when blending the custard ingredients.
Follow the rest of the recipe.
I've often used Kahlua as a substitute for vanilla in cookie or bar recipes. It's particularly good with chocolate chip cookies.
Substitute 1 can coconut milk for evaporated milk.
Optional: Grate fresh coconut and sprinkle generously over the caramalized sugar after pouring it in the pie pan.
Follow the rest of the recipe. For Valentine's Day bake in a heart-shaped pan.
An Even Easier and Faster Mexican Desert
Mexican hot chocolate had a unique flavor and is made with cinnamon. To make it for 4 people, heat up 4 cups of milk. Cut up one round of Mexican Ibarra hot chocolate into smaller pieces and place in a blender. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and blend on low speed until it's frothy.
Add whip cream (if you really want to be decadent) and serve with your favorite shortbread cookies.
Or what favorite Mexican food would you like to know how to make?