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The most simple, classic flan recipe out there. Custard lovers, this one's for you.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Divide caramel among six 3/4-cup custard cups. Working quickly, tilt cups, coating bottoms and part of sides.
Stir milk and 1/2 cup sugar in medium saucepan over low heat just until sugar dissolves (milk will be lukewarm). Whisk eggs in medium bowl until blended. Slowly whisk in milk mixture. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Strain custard into prepared cups.
Arrange cups in 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake flans until just set in center, about 50 minutes. Remove cups from water and let stand 30 minutes. Chill until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. Cut around sides of each cup to loosen flan; turn out onto plate.
Caramelizing the molds: Choose 6 6-ounce or 4 8-ounce molds—custard cups, coffee cups or individual soufflé dishes. Set them into a baking pan at least 2 inches deep and large enough to give the molds at least ½ inch clearance all around.
Into a small (1- to 1 ½-quart) saucepan, measure the ¾ cup of sugar. Dribble 1/3 cup water around and over the sugar, evenly moistening it, then set on medium-high heat. When the mixture comes to a full boil, wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water (this dissolves any clinging sugar crystals). Reduce the heat to medium and boil without stirring until the syrup begins to turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Now, carefully start gently swirling the pan over the heat until the syrup is a deep straw color. Remove from the heat and continue swirling until the color is a rich amber. Quickly pour a portion of caramel into each one of the molds. Immediately tilt the molds to evenly cover the bottom with caramel. (To clean the saucepan, fill it with water and set over medium heat to dissolve the stuck-on caramel.)
The custard mixture: Heat the oven to 325º, position the oven rack in the middle, bring a kettle of water to a simmer and choose which style of flan you are going to make. In a medium-size (2 ½- to 3-quart) saucepan, combine the sugar called for in the flan version of your choice, the milk and the half-and-half or condensed milk (whichever you’re using). Set over medium heat, add the lime zest if you’re using it, and stir as the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat. If you’re using lime zest, cover and let steep 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs (or egg and yolk combination) until liquidy, then slowly whisk in the warm milk mixture. Stir in the vanilla and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher or bowl. Pour or ladle a portion of the custard mixture into each of the molds.
Baking the custards. Pull out the oven rack and set the pan holding the filled molds onto it. Carefully pour the simmering water into the baking pan, letting it fill around the molds to a depth of about 2 inches. Carefully push the rack into the oven, close the door and bake until the custards are barely set in the middle, 50 to 60 minutes for small molds, 60 to 70 minutes for larger ones. I recommend turning the pan around about half way through baking.
Let the custards cool in their hot water baths, which will take about an hour, so they slowly set completely.
Serving the flans: Refrigerate them for at least 2 hours before serving: To serve, run a small knife around the top edge of each flan, penetrating about ½ inch below the surface. Quickly turn each mold over onto a serving plate. One by one, grasp plate and mold firmly and shake up-and-down, back-and-forth, until you hear the flan drop onto the plate. Remove the mold and scrape out sticky dissolving caramel from the inside, letting it drizzle down on the flan. (Putting the empty molds to soak in very hot water will help remove any undissolved caramel.)
Working Ahead: Covered and refrigerated, flans will keep very well for 4 or 5 days.
- 1 ½ cups milk
- ½ vanilla bean, split (Optional)
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 4 cups cherries (with pits)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
Combine milk and vanilla bean in a pot and steep for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8-inch baking dish with butter. Spread out cherries in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt in a bowl. Add eggs one at a time beat with an electric mixer after each addition until smooth and creamy.
Remove vanilla bean from milk and discard. Add milk to egg mixture. Pour in heavy cream mix until smooth. Pour mixture evenly over cherries.
Bake in the preheated oven until top of clafoutis is golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar on top. Let cool slightly before serving so that the clafoutis is set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 1 egg (large, whole)
- 1/2 cup egg substitute
- vegetable oil spray (non-stick)
- 1 1/2 cups milk (fat-free)
- 1/4 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (grated)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Place saucepan with water on stove over medium-high heat and allow to come to a boil.
3. Spray four ovenproof custard cups with vegetable oil spray.
4. Combine the whole egg, egg substitute, milk, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of honey, grated lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat until mixed but not foamy.
5. In a separate bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of honey and cinnamon, and mix to blend.
6. Place the custard cups in a baking dish large enough to accommodate them, plus the water bath. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of honey and cinnamon into each custard cup. Divide the egg mixture equally into each custard cup.
7. Place the baking dish on the rack in the middle of the oven and pour the boiling water into the baking dish to a depth of 1 inch, taking care not to let the water splash the flan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the knife blade comes out clean when inserted.
8. Serve warm or cold. Before serving, loosen the edges with a knife or spatula and invert onto individual dessert plates.
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Origins of Flan
When the ancient Romans figured out how to breed chickens for eggs and meat, they quickly found they had more eggs than needed. This surplus led to the development of many new dishes.
These dishes include the dessert that we know of as flan. Back then, however, it was savory rather than sweet. Until they began adding honey, the dish had peppered eel as the primary ingredient.
As the Roman Empire expanded into Europe, they brought the dish with them. New versions and recipes sprung up in many regions, but Spain took a particular interest.
Spanish and Mexican Flan Origins
The Spanish took the standard egg, cream, sugar, and milk recipe and added a sweet caramel sauce on top. It soon became a beloved Spanish dessert, and conquistadors introduced it to the indigenous Mesoamericans.
What Mexicans did with the dish took it a step further, and they did it so well that flan is arguably known as a Mexican dessert. With flavors like coconut, chocolate, and coffee, the recipes circulated to Latin America, and their popularity grew even more.
Cookbooks from the 1600s are the first instance of published flan recipes . There are two types of flan in these books, ‘stirred’ and ‘still.’
For stirred custards, the egg mixture needs consistent stirring on a stovetop or over a fire until almost coming to a boil. By cooking in a water bath, still flan results in a thickened liquid and sometimes goes with a pastry-like crust.
Since meat was more accessible during the Renaissance, they enjoyed both sweet and savory variations of these egg custards.
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- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 large whole eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prepare oven and ramekins: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush near the stovetop, and prepare an ice-water bath. Place eight 4-ounce ramekins in a large roasting pan. Bring a large kettle or pot of water to a boil.
Make caramel: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, mix sugar and water, stirring to combine. Do not stir again. Cook, washing down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming, until caramel is amber, about 8 minutes, swirling pan to color evenly. Remove from heat, and immerse bottom of pan in ice-water bath for 3 seconds to stop cooking. Dry bottom of pan. Working quickly, pour about 1 tablespoon caramel into each ramekin, swirling each to coat bottoms evenly.
Make custard: In a small saucepan, heat milk with half the sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) over medium heat just until mixture starts to steam and bubble around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes (do not let it boil).
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, remaining sugar, and salt.
Temper eggs: Add ladle of hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. (This is called tempering, and it prevents the eggs from curdling.) Add two more ladles of milk mixture, one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Gradually whisk in remaining milk mixture.
Strain: Strain through a fine sieve into a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl (to remove any cooked bits of egg). Stir in vanilla.
Bake: Divide custard evenly among ramekins. Place pan in oven. Add enough boiling water to pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake until custards are just set (they should tremble slightly in center when shaken), 35 to 42 minutes.
Chill and serve: Remove pan from oven. Use tongs to carefully remove ramekins from hot-water bath and place on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours (or up to 3 days). To unmold, run a sharp knife around inside of ramekins, and place a rimmed serving plate upside down over top of each. Invert, and gently lift ramekin to remove. Serve immediately.
What is flan?
Flan, or crème caramel, is a creamy custard dessert topped with caramel that’s popular in Mexico, Spain and many Latin American countries.
It’s known for its smooth and creamy consistency that’s achieved by cooking the custard in a water bath, or a bain-marie or baño-maría. Doing so creates steam in the oven which gently and evenly cooks the flan, keeping it moist and ensuring that the eggs aren’t overcooked and curdled or scrambled.
The flan is cooked with the caramel on the bottom of the pan and the custard mixture on top. After it’s cooked and sufficiently cooled, the flan is then inverted onto a plate to reveal a rich and golden caramel sauce that perfectly covers the top of the flan!
It truly is a magical dessert!
- For a citrusy twist, add 1 teaspoon of orange zest to the custard mixture.
- For a coffee twist, add 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder to the custard mixture.
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