Flan, or creme caramel, is one of those things that you either love or hate. I didn’t like it at first, but then grew to love it. I have a soft spot for custard-based desserts, so it’s right up my alley. The premise is simple. Fill the bottom of a ramekin with caramelized sugar, fill it with custard, bake, and then flip it over onto a plate and enjoy!
There are many variations of flan. Different recipes use different combinations of milks, as well as different quantities of whole eggs and egg yolks. In fact, I use two different recipes, depending on whether I am making individual sized servings or a large one. Here, I am making some single-serving flans. I have tinkered and tweaked this recipe so that it comes out exactly how I like it. Feel free to play around with the measurements to suit your personal taste.
First, arrange your ramekins in a baking dish or roasting pan on top of a wire rack. Try not to crowd them.
Next, you want to make your sugar syrup. Place your sugar in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and turn to medium heat. Pour some water into a measuring cup (I use a 4:1 ratio of sugar to water) and set aside.
Swirl the sugar around in the pan once in a while to distribute the heat. The sugar will start to melt and darken.
Resist the urge to stir the sugar while it’s melting, as it can cause the sugar to crystallize. Just keep swirling it around.
Once there are only a few clumps of solid sugar left, you can start stirring. I normally use either a wooden spoon or silicon spatula.
Once there are no clumps of sugar left, and your sugar is ready for the final step. At this, you want to remove it from the heat. If your syrup gets too dark, it will turn bitter.
Pour the water you had set aside into the pan with the melted sugar and step back. It is going to sizzle and bubble like crazy, and the steam will burn you, so be careful. Once the steam has somewhat subsided, stir the syrup until it is all incorporated.
Divide your sugar syrup evenly among the ramekins.
Next take your half-and-half (or, 1:1 mixture of cream and milk) and sugar and place in a saucepan over medium heat.
Meanwhile, take your eggs and whisk them with your vanilla extract. Whisk until they are well beaten.
Continue heating your half-and-half/sugar mixture, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until mixture almost starts to boil. Then , remove from the heat. Slowly add the hot liquid to the egg mixture, about 1/8 cup at a time, whisking constantly. You want to bring the temperature of your eggs up slowly, so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your mixture.
Once you have stirred in about 1/3 of the hot liquid, it is safe to pour the rest in all at once. Give it a good whisk so that it is all combined.
Pour your custard mixture in your prepared ramekins. To ensure a smooth custard, I pass mine through a mesh strainer, to remove any stray solids. Place your pan in the oven, then fill the pan with hot water until it reaches about halfway up the ramekins. Bake until the centers only jiggly slightly.
Let them cool completely before refrigerating. I let them refrigerate at least overnight before enjoying.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of the flan, then invert onto a plate. Make sure you let that syrupy goodness pour all over the flan, and enjoy!
|Nothing says “keeping it classy” like a paper plate! Sorry, I was at work when I took this.|
Flan, like cheesecake, tastes best if you let it sit for a day or two before enjoying. Because of this, it’s a great make-ahead dessert. The recipe below can be scaled up or down easily. I like having extras, but I understand if you don’t. Actually, no I don’t, but I respect it anyway.
Single Serving Flans
(adapted from Flan II from Allrecipes.com)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup sugar until amber. Remove from heat and carefully add 1/4 cup of water. Stir until smooth. Carefully pour hot sugar mixture evenly into twelve oven-proof 4oz ramekins or custard cups, tilting cups to coat bottoms evenly
- In another saucepan, bring half and half with sugar just to boiling over medium heat. Stir hot mixture, a little at a time, into beaten eggs and egg yolks, until well combined. Pour mixture evenly into ramekins
- Place ramekins inside a roasting pan, and place roasting pan on oven rack. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake in preheated oven 40 minutes, or until set. Let cool, invert and serve.