If it’s not creamy…it’s not flan…
The most crucial aspect of flan is its texture. If it doesn’t jiggle, melt in your mouth, and have a syrup drip unfortunately it’s not caramel flan… Or at least that’s what any Hispanic person would say, and I completely agree!
However, Hispanics aren’t the only ones that have flan recipes embedded in their culture. In the Philippines, they call it flan de leche. Their flan recipes have a lot more eggs and are denser. Although the texture is slightly different it still jiggles HAHA …and it’s also delicious!
When I first had flan in the UK, I was so confused. In my opinion, it was NOT flan. Four and a half years later, I now understand what happened LOL! See, cooking in the UK is usually synonymous with french techniques. In France, they have a custard dessert that they refer to as Parisian flan. It’s dense, does not jiggle, and doesn’t have that syrup caramel we Hispanics associate with flan. Nevertheless, The french and British refer to this dish as flan. Don’t get me wrong it’s really good! But for me and probably any other Hispanic person, it’s a custard tart, not flan.
So back to Hispanics and our flans… Yes, we take them that seriously LOL! My caramel flan recipe is SUPER creamy, lighter, and has less fat than a traditional flan recipe, all good things! AND I promise it doesn’t compromise in flavor.
How did I make it healthier?
The first thing you’ll notice about this caramel flan recipe is the color. It isn’t as yellow or custard-like as what you may be used to. That’s because this flan recipe has fewer eggs than a traditional recipe. Usually, you’ll find most flan recipes have anywhere between 4-6 eggs in them. This one only has 3.
I also opted for using lower-fat condensed and evaporated milk. This reduces the sugar content in the flan, but trust it’s just as delicious and the caramel definitely rounds it all together. So basically you can’t tell =)
Working on the caramel may be the hardest part of this recipe. If it takes you more than one try to accomplish it, that’s ok!! It definitely took me a few tries. I’ll say the most important thing is to leave it alone. DO NOT use a utensil to mix it. If you feel like the sugar is crystallizing at the bottom, just swirl the pot gently. Adding a few drops of lemon or any citrus will also stop the sugar from crystallizing. Most importantly DO NOT TOUCH HOT SUGAR!!! It will 100% burn you.
Flan is one of those dishes that you simply just cant overcook. You may be tempted to, but that jiggle doesn’t mean that it isn’t cooked. It simply just hasn’t set completely yet. This is why we place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight if possible.
Try out these fabulous HIspanic-ish recipes
Creamy caramel flan- Crème caramel
- Large bowl for mixing
- Small bowl
- Circular 9 inch baking dish Or any round baking dish
- Large baking pan for water bath
- Saucepan for caramel
- Large flat plate
- 3 Eggs
- 410 GRAMS Evaporated milk (1 can)
- 397 Grams Condensed milk (1 can)
- 1 TBSP Vanilla extract
- Small pinch of salt
- 1 Cup Granulated sugar
- 3 TBSP water
- Few drops of lemon (To stop sugar from crystallizing)
- In a large bowl combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, vanilla, and pinch of salt until fully combined. Set aside.
- Gently mix the eggs in a separate bowl until just combined. Don't over mix as we don't want to add too many air bubbles.
- Pour the eggs into the milk mixture and gently combine. Don't over mix. Pop any big bubbles that may have formed. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 325°F or 160°C
- Add all of the ingredients to the saucepan and cook on medium heat. DO NOT use a utensil to mix. If the sugar settles at the bottom, just swirl the pan. Cook until the caramel is medium brown in color. Once the caramel starts to turn brown, keep an eye on it! The caramel can burn easily. ****NEVER touch hot sugar
- Pour the caramel into your baking dish. Swirl the caramel to make sure you coat the sides as well.
- Pour the flan mixture into the dish. Then place the dish into the larger baking pan for a water bath, making sure not to get any water in the flan dish. Check notes
- Place the oven dish in the oven on the middle rack and cook for about 40-50 minutes checking at the 35-minute mark. Gently use your finger to touch the flan surface. If it bounces back with a jiggle, it's ready! The flan will jiggle, we want this. Check notes.
- Remove the flan from the water bath and place it on a heat resistant surface to cool down for about 15 minutes. Then place it in the refrigerator to set and cool completely, approximately 3 hours.
- Remove the flan from the refrigerator and use a butter knife to gently go around the sides. Afterward, place the plate on top making sure the plate covers the flan dish fully.
- Flip over and gently pull the flan dish away letting the caramel drip over completely. Check notes.
- Serve cold...And DONE!!!
- Make the flan mixture before the caramel. This will allow for any air bubbles to pop in the meantime.
- Try not to over mix the eggs. Mix until just combined. Too many air bubbles will cause your flan to be spongey and not creamy.
- Using a water bath helps the flan cook evenly and not too fast. If the flan cooks fast, it will create air bubbles. We don't want air bubbles in our flan.
- For the water bath, I pour just a little bit of water into the pan (warm water), add the flan dish, then place it in the oven. Once in the oven, I carefully add more water to the bath until it is about halfway up on the flan dish. Doing it this way helps avoid accidentally spilling water into the flan dish. The flan will not set correctly if water is accidentally added to the dish.
- At the 35-40 minute mark, if you can't tell if your flan is ready, just pull it out from the oven. It will continue to cook slightly from residual heat. Or leave it out of the oven, but in the bath for an extra 5 minutes.
- Some of the caramel will stick to the flan dish. Heating the bottom of the flan dish in a hot water bath will release a bit more caramel. However, some will always harden at the bottom.
- If your flan came out spongey it probably was overcooked. It'll still taste good, but it won't have the creamy texture we want.
- Always serve cold