Gluten-free Monday: Vanilla Flan Success

So, following a flip failure on my first attempt at vanilla flan—as well as issues with the caramel sauce, I decided to give vanilla flan another try.

I used the same recipe as last time (see below), but substituted whole milk for cream.  I was interested to see if it would work to make flan from ingredients commonly found in the kitchen.  (Even a Dairy Princess like me doesn’t keep heavy cream around just in case.)

The caramel sauce went fine.  The scalding seemed to go a bit better, the foamy, pre-boiling stage was easier to detect.  I did let the milk cool a bit, and then poured through a strainer into the egg.  I made sure the baking dish was in the oven, the oven was warm, and the water was boiled and ready before I poured the custard onto the caramel sauce.

I let it cook for 55 minutes, which I suspect was a bit too long.  45-50 minutes probably would have been fine.  I cooled it by letting it first sit in the water bath for 5 minutes, then on a cooling rack for an hour, then overnight in the fridge.

This time it flipped fine and the caramel sauce was fine as well.  The texture was a bit stiff, not as creamy as other attempts, but fine.  The flavor was good as well, with the caramel sauce soaking into the flan.


Vanilla Flan


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds for garnish (optional)
  • sprig of mint for garnish (optional)


* Substituted for whipping cream.

This flan recipes makes 6 servings – yields 6 individual servings in ramekins.

Required Utensils/Equipment

  • 1 long-handled wooden spoon
  • 6 ramekins or one 5” x 9” 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

Heat 4-5 cups of water.

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 milk 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 and pouring through a strainer, gradually add hot milk to egg yolk mixture. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Blend in vanilla extract. Pour mixture into pan with caramel sauce.

Place small baking dish in large baking dish.  Pour in hot water until there is about 1/2-inch of water in the 9” x 13” baking dish for boiling water bath. 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 smaller dish, 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.

Cool for five minutes in the water bath. Set on a cooling rack for an hour, then chill thoroughly in refrigerator. This usually takes at least 1 hour.  (I refrigerated over night.)

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.

About missbodie

The Dragon Lady is a life long tea drinker. Her first coffee shops were Big Boy and the Oriental Diner in downtown Milwaukee. She lives in our Nation's Capital with three bicycles and an energetic tabby cat.
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