Cashmere for the mouth: My Mother’s Flan

My mother spent some of her formative years abroad in Bolivia and Costa Rica before moving to Hawaii in 1967. With that time in South America she spoke Spanish tasted authentic Spanish influences including flan. One thing my mother was always good at has been baking. Her creative endeavors didn’t end at the canvas, she has quite the knack for anything elaborate, chocolate, and above all heavenly on the tongue. Anything custard holds an especially dear place in my heart for sweets, long johns anyone? I don’t recall the first time I ate my mother’s flan, but every time we ate out and ordered flan, my mother would always say hers was better.

Around the house when I was young it was a common sight to have dessert for dinner. We often stopped by Craig’s bakery in Kailua for their day-old specials, including their delicious custard pie. I now understand how absurd it was to be eating whatever I wanted to for dinner as a kid, including dessert, but my mom always said, “eggs, flour, milk, well why not it’s healthy?” I now suffer from an insatiable sweet-tooth that was earned from many of these “dessert for dinner” nights.

Recently I asked my mom how to make her delicious flan. She likes her caramel a little bit towards the dark and almost burnt side. Turns out I do too. I was always afraid to try making this dish fearing it was much too difficult. A bit tricky, but it turns out not too hard at all. We have our own hens and ducks, and if you can get your hands on some duck eggs it’ll make your custard divine.

My Mother’s FLAN

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups granulated raw sugar for caramel
  • 5 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk plus 1 can condensed milk or evaporated milk plus nonfat milk to equal 4 cups.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or almond extract if you prefer)

Directions

  1. Have your baking dish/es ready, and be sure it is dry.
  2. Melt and caramelize the 2/3 cup raw sugar in a heavy skillet. (I use my 2qt le creuset)
  3. When sugar melts and turns a light golden color (or darker if you prefer, but make sure not to burn it), which takes about 5 minutes, quickly pour in the pudding dish/es and tilt back and forth with a swirling motion to cover bottom of dish. Set aside and cool.
  4. Beat eggs and yolks into the cream mixture and add salt. Stir. Add vanilla. Strain over a fine mesh strainer and pour into prepared pudding dish/es.
  5. Set dish in pan of hot water and baker covered with foil in preheated 325 degree oven for 20-30 minutes for small ramekins, to 1 1/2 hours for a large dish. Note: Depending on the size of the pudding dish you use, a 2-quart dish or individual ramekins, your cooking time will vary.
  6. Insert knife in center, if knife comes out clean flan is done. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  7. Place a round, rimmed plate/platter over flan to flip over slowly. Flip carefully as the caramelized sugar syrup will pour out along with the flan. Enjoy warm or chilled.

I hope you enjoy this flan as much as I do!

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