If you’re looking for an impressive dessert to serve that won’t take a lot of time to make, you’ve simply got to learn how to make flan. True, there’s a bit of fuss involved in caramelizing sugar and then placing ramekins in a water bath, but it’s worth it once you overturn your ramekins to reveal beautiful, creamy flan.
Photos via CakeSpy
Here’s an easy homemade flan recipe that comes together in minutes.
This simple caramel custard is a food and cooking staple in many countries and goes by a variety of names. In France it’s known as crème caramel, whereas in Spanish speaking countries, it’s more frequently referred to as flan or even flan de leche. And, just in case you were wondering about pronunciation, “flan” rhymes with “don” rather than “dan.”
No matter what you call it, one thing is certain, this is a simple yet sophisticated recipe that will bring panache to the dessert course.
How to make flan
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- 6 ramekins
- Large Pyrex-style pan (used as a water bath)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 6 large eggs
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 13-ounce cans evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Gather your ramekins and Pyrex baking dish. You want to have them handy.
You actually start with the topping for the flan by caramelizing the sugar. Pour 1 cup of sugar into a pan and heat on medium until the sugar begins to caramelize. Once the sugar has turned medium brown, remove it from heat. It will darken a bit more after being removed from the heat.
Working quickly, pour about 2 tablespoons of the caramel mixture into each ramekin. Rotate each ramekin to ensure that sugar covers the entire bottom (not the sides, just the bottom).
Note: If your caramel starts to harden too rapidly, simply reheat it. You can also pour the caramel through a strainer to ensure no hardened bits of sugar make your flan tops too crunchy.
Making caramel can be a bit of mad science. For a full tutorial on caramelizing sugar, refer to this post.
Set the caramel-lined ramekins to the side for the moment.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, whisking until they are combined and lightly frothy. Add the two types of milk, mixing until completely combined. Now, add in the rest of the sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the custard into the caramel-bottomed ramekins.
Now, pour about 1-inch of hot water into your baking pan. Gently place the ramekins in the pan. The water should reach at least half the height of the ramekins; if needed, gently pour in more water.
Gently place the dish in the oven, taking care not to slosh any water into the ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted to the side of the center of the flan comes out mostly clean.
Note: Why the water bath? See the picture below. This is what happens if you bake your flan without a water bath. It’s not pretty; the caramel bubbles up the sides of the ramekin. While it actually still tastes fine, it’s definitely not the elegant dessert most people aim for when making flan.
Remove the pan from the oven and gently remove the ramekins from the water. Refrigerate for at least an hour to help the individual servings further set. When you’re ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of each ramekin.
Place a plate on top of the upside-down flan. Now, holding the ramekin and plate together, invert the two so that the ramekin is on top.
Gently lift off the ramekin. The flan should come out easily and cleanly. Let the caramel drip on top of the flan. Serve immediately after inverting.
There you have it! A beautiful and elegant dessert to add to your dessert repertoire, perfect for serving at your next dinner party!