This week, I continue my exploration of crème caramel/flan. I decided to try a vanilla or “plain” flan. I found a very basic recipe that started out well. However, perhaps I flipped too soon, perhaps something else was less than optimal, but this one stuck for the flip and tore a bit.
So, from the beginning. I found a vanilla flan recipe with just a few ingredients: sugar, eggs, heavy cream, vanilla. It started as they all do, caramelize the sugar, drizzle on the bottom of a baking dish or several small baking dishes. I then mixed the eggs and sugar, and heated the milk to “scald.”
The first thing that went a bit awry was that I poured the custard mixture into the pan on top of the caramel “sauce”, placed it in the oven to then realize that the water hadn’t boiled because I forgot the electric kettle was unplugged. I took the uncooked flan out of the oven for a few minutes while the water boiled, then put it back in the oven.
Second, I got greedy, wanted a taste, and didn’t want to wait until the flan cooled over night. Remembering that some of the directions from other recipes indicated the flan could be flipped and served hot, I flipped after about only half an hour of air cooling. The flan tore, and about half of the caramel sauce was still hard and stuck to the bottom of the pan. 😦
I decided to try it warm right then. (No crying over torn flan.) At that point, it tasted eggy, almost like an omlette. The texture also seemed eggy at that point, but very smooth, from the cream.
I popped most of it into the fridge, a bit disappointed in my first plain and simple flan.
The next morning, the caramel sauce seemed to have soaked in more. I tasted it and the texture was smoother, more like a pudding. Also, the eggy flavor had gone away.
This recipe was smaller (3 eggs, 2 cups of “milk”) than the others (6 or 7 eggs, 3 cups of “milk”). Less than 24 hours later: GONE!!! 😀
I may have to try this one again, to see if I can smooth out the rough patches and flip the flan the second time. It might have been the premature flip, or that the custard mixture sat in the pan for a while before baking, or maybe the custard mixture needed to be a bit cooler before pouring into the flan pan. I guess I need to find out . . . . 😉
Classic Vanilla Flan
“Flan” is the Spanish name for vanilla egg custard, topped with caramel sauce. It is a Spanish classic and one of the most popular desserts, served everywhere in Spain. Flan makes a great finish to any meal because even though it is sweet, it is a light dessert. Because it is made in ramekins or a baking dish and not removed until it’s time to eat, it “travels” well in an ice chest. Just cover tightly with plastic wrap while en route and un-mold when ready to serve!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Refrigerate: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: 6 Servings
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups whipping cream*
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds for garnish (optional)
- sprig of mint for garnish (optional)
If you prefer, follow our Easy Step-by-Step Recipe for Flan.
* To make a lower calorie flan, use 1 cup non-fat milk and 1 cup light whipping cream.
This flan recipes makes 6 servings – yields 6 individual servings in ramekins.
- 1 long-handled wooden spoon
- 6 ramekins or one large baking dish
- 1 large 9” x 13” baking dish (for water bath)
- 2 medium size mixing bowls
- 1 heavy saucepan
- 1 heavy skillet or saucepan
Wipe out the ramekins to ensure that there is no dust in them. Set in the glass baking dish.
Heat 4-5 cups of water in a pot on stove.
Put a heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup sugar. With the back of a wooden spoon, keep sugar moving constantly in skillet until sugar is completely melted, and of a rich medium brown color (caramelized).
Carefully spoon caramelized sugar into each of the 6 ramekins or large dish.
Pre-heat oven to 325F (162C) degrees.
Scald cream in a saucepan. (Keep a close eye on the pan, so the cream does not boil over.) Remove immediately.
Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, beat slightly 3 eggs. Mix in 1/4 cup sugar.
Stirring constantly, gradually add hot cream to egg yolk mixture. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Blend in vanilla extract. Ladle mixture into ramekins.
Carefully remove 1-2 ramekins to provide some extra room. Pour in hot water until there is about 1/2-inch of water in the 9” x 13” baking dish for boiling water bath. Replace ramekins. (If using one large open baking dish, be sure that the dish is tall enough to accommodate the water necessary.)
If the water level does not reach 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramekins, carefully pour more water in. Bake uncovered in water bath for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted half way between center and the edge of dish.
Note: To ensure the custard does not over-cook, check doneness after 45 minutes, then every 3-5 minutes.
Carefully remove each ramekin from the water bath. Set on a cooling rack until lukewarm, then chill thoroughly in refrigerator. This usually takes at least 1 hour.
When ready to serve, un-mold by running a knife around the inside edge of baking dish. Place a small dessert plate on the top of the ramekin. With one hand under the ramekin and the other on top of the place, turn over. Tap the ramekin and the flan should drop onto the plate. If it does not, carefully “prod” the flan out of the ramekin with a small paring knife. It should slide out of the ramekin onto the plate.
Garnish with whole blanched almonds and/or a sprig of mint if desired.