My relationship with flan got off to a rocky start mainly due to my high school Spanish teacher’s extreme disgust for the custard dessert. You see, I grew up in a non-Spanish-speaking community and when I was in high school, I had never even heard of flan, let alone tasted it. My Spanish teacher had studied in Spain, and she despised the dessert. She called it phlegm rather than flan. Her negative bias rubbed off on me and when I traveled to Spain as a 16-year-old, I mistakenly turned up my nose at beautiful piece of flan that my host family served me. I still ate it, but let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite. It was kind of eggy, and I wasn’t crazy about the texture.
Fast forward a few years and now I am a Spanish teacher in the same community I grew up in. Things have changed a bit, and thankfully we have some more Spanish-speakers living here now. One of my very good friends and coworkers, Dulce, happens to be from Mexico, and she makes the most delicious Mexican food. She is always hosting parties and inviting family and friends over to sample her luscious eats. On one occasion, Dulce made flan, and I decided to give it a second chance. Thank goodness I did because it was the most silky flan I had ever tasted. It was cool and creamy and the liquid caramel gave it the perfect touch of sweetness.
It was so good that I asked Dulce if I could take a piece home to my mom so that she could try it. and of course, my mom LOVED it to say the least. (She would later request this as her birthday cake each year.) I, of course told Dulce how much we loved her flan, and at the next gathering, she showed me step-by-step how to make her delectable dessert. She even sent me home with an entire flan to share with my mom. 🙂
Dulce’s secret is the cream cheese. It gives the flan its signature smoothness and gets rid of the eggy texture and flavor. The flan is not thick and tall, but rather delicate and thin because it’s made in a 9-inch pan.
This is not a hard recipe to make, but you must pay close attention when you are stirring the caramel. It can go from golden brown to burnt in a matter of seconds. I once ruined an entire flan because I wasn’t paying attention to the caramel! When it’s liquid and smells caramely, it’s ready. If you smell burnt, you’ve gone too far. It would be best just to throw the sugar away and start again. Otherwise I can guarantee you that it will ruin the entire flan.
This flan continues to be a crowd pleaser. My pregnant cousin was craving it the other day and texted me for this recipe, and that’s when I said I need to post this to the blog. So, here you go, and here’s your fair warning: this flan has magical powers, and you might not be able to stop eating it. 😉
1 cup sugar
Water, wet hands (approx. less than ¼-½ tsp)
→Put sugar in a saucepan. Wet both hands with water and flick over top of the sugar. Do this 2-3 times. (I know this sounds weird, but don’t try to measure the water. It works better this way.)
→Place over medium heat and begin to stir the sugar. At first the sugar will appear dry, and you may think you did not add enough water, but please don’t add more. The sugar will come together and caramelize in about 4-10 minutes.
→Keep a constant eye on the sugar. It can turn from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds. You are looking for a golden brown liquid that smells sweet and caramely but not burnt.
→IMMEDIATELY pour the caramel into an ungreased 9” cake pan. Move the pan in circles so the sugar completely covers the bottom. The sugar will harden quickly. Be careful not to burn yourself. The sugar is extremely hot.
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 TBSP Mexican vanilla extract
½ stick (4 oz.) cream cheese (does not have to be softened)
→Preheat the oven to 350°F.
→Place all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour milk mixture on top of the caramelized sugar in the pan.
→Place the cake pan in a large casserole dish or wok. Pour lukewarm water around the 9” cake pan so that it comes about halfway up the side of the pan. This is called a baño María. Place in oven.
→Bake for 60-75* minutes. The flan should be set in the middle and will be golden brown on top.
→Remove the flan from oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes-1 hour. Then, cover with a plate and place in the refrigerator. Chill until the flan is cold (about 4-6 hours or overnight is best*).
→When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the flan. Shake with lots of amor (love) to loosen from the sides of the pan.* Place a flat, round serving platter* over the cake pan and flip the flan out. You might have to wait a few seconds before it falls onto the plate. Enjoy!
Makes…one 9” flan.
- I know this is a big time span, but every oven is so different when it comes to flan. My friend Dulce bakes hers in 60 minutes, but it takes 65-70 minutes in my oven.
- I like to make this recipe a day in advance to give it time to chill completely. If you are taking the flan with you to a party, leave it in the pan and then flip it out once you arrive. It will be easier to transport.
- Sometimes if the flan is not coming loose, I will fill up the bottom of the kitchen sink with warm water and place the pan in it for a few seconds.
- You may want to use a serving platter with a lip so as not to spill any of the delicious caramel topping.
Recipe Source: Dulce Miller