Classic Flan

in Desserts

OMG! It’s Monday. I feel like before we dive into sugar and eggs and cream, I should make you watch this video of this bear waving, because it’ll really set a tone for the rest of this blog post (and for the rest of your week).

Alright, I’ll wait…

Now that you’ve had a nice little laugh, and thought to yourself, How did that bear wave like that?! it’s time to talk about flan!!

I grew up hating flan. HA-T-ING.

This is because the majority of flan served in latin restaurants, throughout South Florida, is really really eggy, not super smooth and overly sweet. I always skipped flan and just ate more rice.

Even my great aunt’s recipe–which is considered to be a family treasure–is not my favorite. I really wish I was giving you some recipe that was a family heirloom or whatever, but sometimes it’s just not the case. Instead, this recipe is mash-up of a Jose Andrés recipe (who had similar flan memories as myself!) and this old Bon Appetit recipe I’ve made a few dozen times. The ratios in this recipe are pretty flawless, really–it’s only the technique that I’ve tweaked here and there. This flan isn’t too eggy. Not too sweet. And the custard is incredibly smooth. Totally dreamy!

(Remember last week when I told you I was cooking alongside Bravo’s new show, Around the World in 80 Plates? Well, this week they’re in Barcelona, Spain. Check it out on Wednesday at 10pm/9pmc on Bravo!!)

If you’ve never made flan, I can tell you that it’s a lot scarier than it looks.

It starts with making the custard. Heating up milk and heavy cream and vanilla together and then mixing it with some sugar and eggs. No biggie!

Then there’s caramel, which I know is a lil’ scary, but not really. Making caramel means that you have to focus. No distractions. That’s all!

No texting and carameling!! It doesn’t work!

After you make the caramel, it gets swirled in each of the ramekins.

The custard is added. And then the whole thing takes a trip to the oven in a casserole dish filled with water.

The biggest challenge is not eating the stuff warm, straight out of the oven. It’s imperative that they have time to chill on the counter. And super important that they have time to chill in the fridge overnight.

The next afternoon or evening, you’ll take them out, run a knife along the sides, plate them up and watch all the caramel ooze out the sides. So good!

Classic Flan

Print this recipe!

1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 large eggs
2 large yolks
7 tablespoons sugar

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Combine cream, milk and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into cream mixture; add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.

2. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl just until blended. Add a 1/4 cup of the milk mixture to the beaten eggs and mix. (This will bring the temperature of the eggs closer to that of the milk mixture.) Add all of the egg mixture to the milk mixture and gently whisk without creating lots of foam. Pour custard through small sieve to eliminate any eggy bits. Set aside.

3. Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in another heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 7-8 minutes. Quickly pour caramel into six 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Using oven mitts as aid, immediately tilt each ramekin to coat sides. Set ramekins into 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

4. Pour the custard into the prepared ramekins, dividing evenly (mixture will fill ramekins). Transfer baking dish to oven rack and fill the baking dish with enough water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake until centers of flans are gently set, about 45 minutes. Transfer flans to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead.) To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release flan. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over flan. Repeat with remaining flans and serve.

Recipe tweaked from Bon Appetit and Jose Andrés

Serves 6

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Margherita May 21, 2012 at 2:55 am

Here in Italy they called this kind of flan “Creme Caramel”. We have borrowed the word from the French as it sounds more classy (I guess…)
This is a pretty solid recipe and I’m eager to compare to my grandma’s one. I especially like how you use the vanilla bean to give a bit of extra flavor (besides eggs and sugar).

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Steph May 21, 2012 at 5:44 am

I’m dying to make this! I had the most delicious flan at a Mexican restaurant recently and it was not overly eggy at all, so creamy and sweet and the caramel was burnt enough so that it tasted like it had coffee in it. Delicious.

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar May 21, 2012 at 5:47 am

Mmmm this sounds awesome!

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Allyn May 21, 2012 at 6:20 am

I might have just licked my computer screen. Yum.

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Carlene @ Carlene's Figments May 21, 2012 at 6:57 am

The custard looks like perfection.

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Sarah May 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

Ah, delicious! I’m going to have to try to make them…I feel like the hardest part for me will definitely be to not eat it right away! Haha

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Margarita May 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

My mom used to make flans on special occasions when we were little… it was the only dessert she made at home. I loved it so much and haven’t had one in such a long time! Now, I can recreate that childhood experience and make my mama proud.Thanks for the recipe share!

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Deb May 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

I agree, I almost never order flan as it usually is a disappointment. Thank you for a scrumptious version of the classic! Can’t wait to try your recipe.

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Megan May 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

Oh, I totally want to try this. They’re so pretty too!

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Megan May 21, 2012 at 10:44 am

And P.S. that bear! Love it.

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Liza in Ann Arbor May 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

I don’t usually choose flan either, when it’s one of many options. But Jose Andres? Barcelona? These gorgeous photos? I think this is a flan I can get behind!

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mallory @ totalnoms May 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

Blaaahhh my family is from Argentina, but I grew up HATING flan too, which is total bait for the worst guilt trips ever from your flan-loving/making abuelas and tias. Plus my boyfriend’s family is from the Philippines where they go nuts their own version of flan as well, so I haven’t really been able to escape it. But if you are a flan hater and managed to like this, then maybe it’s worth a try for me, too!

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Miss K May 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

Delicious! Would love to have one now…

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kale May 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

I love the encouraging words you start with: “If you’ve never made flan, I can tell you that it’s a lot scarier than it looks.”
I knew it!! haha Truthfully, I am scared of flan. But I vow to try my hand at it. One day.

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B. Grow May 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

My dad lived in Spain for a little while and absolutely LOVES flan and of course had us try it! I’m like you and thought that for the most part it was too eggy for my taste. But if you say this is delish I must try!

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Bev @ Bev Cooks May 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm

SERIOUSLY. I’m not big on sweets but this looks totes pimp.

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Lynna H. May 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I love flan! And i think i`ll love this recipe too! :D thanks for sharing!

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Meki May 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm

These are the kind of dessert that is almost present in every Filipino parties! plus we put these in our Halo-Halo (dessert) ~ I love love this!

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kelly May 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm

i love flan. i grew up eating my puerto rican grandma’s flan, and she passed the recipe, and her favorite flan making dish, on to me before she passed.
the best thing about her flan, when made just right, is that it’s super light and smooth. she used sweetened condensed milk, less eggs, and grates lime zest in. my husband says it’s the best dessert he’s ever had, and he did not grow up eating flan.
this looks equally delicious, so maybe i shall experiment with some other dairy ingredients!

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Adrianna May 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Ooooo…I love the lime zest and condensed milk! I know a lot of South Americans use sweetened condensed milk, too. LOVE!

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Michelle @ Taste As You Go May 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I was never a big fan of flan growing up either, but I think I’ve finally outgrown that phase. I might have to try making it at home now. Thanks for sharing!

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Laura @ GotChocolate May 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Talk about PERFECTION!!! Beautiful! My daughter absolutely LOVES flan!!!

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Lyssa May 22, 2012 at 4:59 am

I wasn’t big on down growing up either…. But that’s cos I’m English and over here flan is a savoury pastry case filled with an egg filling. Lol!

This is what we call creme caramel and is one of my faves along with creme brulee!

I find the language differences so funny.

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rmt May 22, 2012 at 7:42 am

I looove flan! I have a little shortcut that I use when making it. To save time, I use maple syrup (the good stuff) to replace the caramel. That way I don’t have to bother with making the caramel, and it tastes just as good.

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sutanuka May 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

can i use vanilla essence instead of vanilla pod coz where i live its quite impossible to get a vanilla pod

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Adrianna May 22, 2012 at 11:20 am

Yes ma’am. I’d use 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.

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Let Me Eat Cake May 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

i am a huge flan fan HUGE! love the stuff can’t get enough of it. grew up eating leche flan (the filipino version) that is much sweeter but over time i perfected my own recipe too. love the smooth creaminess of it now i want some!

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Blondie May 26, 2012 at 12:56 am

I love flan, but you are so right. I have had it many times in SoFla Cuban restaurants and they really overdo the sweetness. And sometimes they put coconut on it. Blech! I find that when restaurants call it creme caramel, it is usually lighter and not so sweet. Maybe it’s just me.

I just received my shipment of ramekins for flan, so this is a very timely post. Thanks!! Love your blog!

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las artes May 26, 2012 at 5:04 am

Into a blender, pour one can of sweetened condensed milk. Then fill up the empty can with milk and pour it in too. Add one egg, and a dash of vanilla. Blend until well mixed. Meanwhile, cook several heaping tablespoons of white sugar in a pan, rotating the pan occasionally to avoid burning the sugar. When the sugar is a golden caramel color, pour it into a metal doughnut-shaped mold (ring mold). Pour in the mixture from the blender, and bake in the oven at about 300-350 degrees with the mold pan in a larger pan of water, so that the water comes up about half way on the outside of the ring/doughnut mold. Bake until the top of the flan starts to turn golden, and a knife inserted into the flan comes out clean. It generally takes a little over an hour.

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Kitty May 28, 2012 at 11:24 am

Love, love flan!! Yummy!

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Sandra May 1, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Ok, promise not to kill me? Can I use store bought caramel for this (I’m thinking the jarred caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s)? I’m planning a menu for a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend and I really would like to take some shortcuts so I’m not in the kitchen all day long. I’ve used store bought caramel to make flan before, and it’s been fine. But I’m not sure if its recipe specific? Let me know if you think it wouldn’t turn out the same. Thanks Adrianna! You rock!

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Adrianna Adarme May 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Sandra! HOW DARE YOU! JK, I think it’ll work just fine. This caramel was super thin so the only possible problem I can think of is TJ’s consistency. But I say give it a go! xo

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Sandra May 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Hmmm…. I think I’m just going to make it instead of buying it. I dont want to sacrfice the awesome consistency that homemade caramel has! I just have such a hard time with it…the sugar always seems to turn granular on me before it browns and then it just turns into a sticky mess. It usually takes me 2 or 3 tries and an hour cursing over the stove to get it just right. Any tips? :)

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Adrianna Adarme May 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Hmm…caramel is a tricky beast. I actually think it’s ok if the sugar gets a little clumpy and granular, it usually does that right before it starts to turn brown. I usually turn the heat off right at the sight of browning and then swirl the sugar (it’ll usually cook more) and then if it needs more heat I place it back over low heat for a 30 seconds or so. And then repeat this process. Hope this helps!

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Sandra May 6, 2013 at 11:11 am

So I made it and it WORKED like a charm and came out AMAZINGLY. Soooo many comments on how smooth and silky it was. Making it again for Mothers Day this weekend. THANK YOU!

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