Flan (Crème Caramel)
Y Mother was the Queen of Flan. She used to make it for every occasion at our place. She even began to make it upon request by the neighbours. I wondered why she never thought to sell her flans or start her own franchise.........she could have made a fortune; Although, my Dad often jested that the quality ingredients she uses and the slices she serves she would lose out on the profits. For Mom always cut thick slices of flan for my Father and I and would use the finest ingredients she could get, always using up to 12 free range eggs per flan and used Carnation® Evaporated milk, Carnation® Sweetened condensed milk and 8 ounces of fresh whole milk....and the finest vanilla essence she could find. This was just to make the egg custard for the flan. She made her caramel with granulated sugar and same ratio of water as sugar.
Lan has been around for centuries. The dish was first found in ancient Rome. The Romans used eggs to make custard-like savoury dish which was baked. The Romans loved eel flan. They learned to make sweet flan as well which they sweetened with honey and sprinkled, not with sugar, but with none other than....pepper! Spain later adopted the Roman egg custard dish, using caramelized sugar as a base topping for the custard. This was the birth of the modern flan.
lan, in the British connotation of the word means a sweet or savoury pastry case used to fill with whipped cream, strawberries and other fruits. To the British, what Spain calls Flan is known as Crème Caramel. The French use both the pastry case and egg custard meaning of the word flan, baking their egg custard in little moulds in a Bain Marie.
rom Spain and throughout Europe the idea of this sweet decadent dessert travelled to the Americas and Caribbean. In my parents’ native country of Cuba, there is a mirage of ways of making flan. Some Cuban cooks make chocolate flan, other Cuban cooks make pumpkin flan, coconut flan, coffee flan, and even one flavoured with orange.
he word flan evolved from the old French word, Flaoun which they adopted from the Latin ‘Fladon’, which means ‘custard’.
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 can (8oz) evaporated milk
1 can (8 oz) sweetened condensed milk
8 oz whole milk (You can substitute skim milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 US cup (8 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup water
1. Method Make the crème caramel. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan pour the cup of sugar and water over high heat. Let the sugar caramelize and turn a lovely amber colour, for about twenty minutes. Don't let it burn. Shake the pan from side to side occasionally, but be careful not to burn yourself for the mixture can get extremely hot.
2. Have ready a deep Pyrex dish ready; alternatively, you can use small glass ramekin dishes for individual flans. Once the crème caramel sauce is done remove from heat and (VERY QUICKLY) pour the sauce into the Pyrex dish or individual ramekin dishes.
3. In a large bowl pour the evaporated, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk and stir to combine. Add the eggs and the vanilla. With an electric beater beat this mixture until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared Pyrex or individual ramekins.
4. Prepare a Bain Marie. Get a large roasting pan and place the Pyrex (or ramekins) in this pan. Pour enough water till the water comes about 1 inch from the sides of the Pyrex/ramekins.
5. Bake in oven for 2 hours if making a large flan or 55 minutes respectably if making individual ramekins.
6. Once the flan is cooked remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes...then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
7. Once the flan has set in the fridge you want to unmold it. To do this first run a butter knife around the perimetres of the flan to loosen it. Give the mold a gentle shake. Carefully put a serving platter over the Pyrex/ramekins and with one fast move invert the plate so that the flan is resting on the plate and the Pyrex/ramekin is on top. Let the melted caramel sauce drip unto the platter.