Flan is an egg custard that is deeply golden, completely creamy, and amazingly tasty. The custardy dessert dates the way back to Ancient Rome, where both sweet and savory – think cheese, spinach, and seafood – flans were enjoyed. As the recipe for flan spread across Europe, it took on new characteristics in each country. England created flan that was baked in a pastry shell or crust, while France added chocolate to flan to create the pots de creme that we know today.
Also referred to as crème caramel or caramel custard, flan soon became a staple of Mexican and Latin American cuisine and known for is top layer of caramel sauce. While flan looks and tastes like an elegant dish that would be difficult to prepare, it is really quite simple to make and compiled of very basic ingredients, including milk, eggs, and sugar. This version’s most complicated aspect is perfecting the caramel topping. As you pour the golden caramelized sugar syrup from the hot pan into the cool molds, it hardens rapidly. Just act fast and get your liquid caramel to coat the bottom of your cups before it turns into hard caramel candy. Once you get the technique right, it’s almost like dessert magic!
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 (8-ounces) package cream cheese, softened
• 5 large eggs
• 1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
• 1 can (12-ounces) evaporated milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a heavy saucepan, cook sugar and water over medium-low heat until melted and golden, about 15 minutes. Brush down crystals on the side of the pan with additional water as necessary. Quickly pour into an ungreased 2-quart round baking or souffle dish, tilting to coat the bottom, then let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs – one at a time – until thoroughly combined. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour over caramelized sugar.
3. Place the dish in a larger baking pan. Pour boiling water into a larger pan to a depth of one inch. Bake until the center is just set, approximately 50-60 minutes.
4. Remove the dish from a larger pan to a wire rack and cool for one hour. Refrigerate overnight.
5. To unmold, run a knife around edges and invert onto a large rimmed serving platter. Cut into wedges or spoon onto dessert plates, then spoon sauce over each serving.
Mix up something scrumptious tonight with this special recipe provided to you by The Heights at La Salle Apartments in Durham, North Carolina, and put our updated, fully equipped kitchens to good use!