Big flan little effort.

I’ve made a few flans in my day. Not many but enough to understand the basic dynamics of flan manufacturing. It’s simply an egg custard baked with an easy caramel. It can be a thing of beauty — sweet, silky, surprisingly complex. But I’ve had some that were over-cooked, too burnt (from poorly calibrated caramel), too eggy, too cloyingly sweet.

I’ve tinkered with this basic recipe a bit. It has a flavor similar to mild cheesecake. It makes sense in that both desserts contain cream cheese, which is not common for flan but makes the recipe essentially foolproof.

It’s creamy, it’s supple. It’s solid but tender. It’s sweet but just so. And it’s easy.

You’ll need:

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 12-oz can of evaporated milk
1 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk
5 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 a vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Do this:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small saucepan pour the cup of sugar. Over medium-low heat cook the sugar, stirring occasionally, until it has melted completely and turn golden. Pour your cooked sugar into the bottom of a nine-inch Pyrex pie pan. Swirl in around to coat the bottom of the pie dish.

Now place a small kitchen cloth on the bottom of large, shallow pan or a baking dish. Place the pie pan on the the cloth. The towel will help prevent the caramel from over-cooking and turning bitter.

Set up the flan for the big bake. 

Using a blender, mix the cream cheese and evaporated milk until liquified. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Now blend the sweetened condensed milk and eggs together and add it to the cream cheese mixture. Scrap the vanilla bean half and add the paste-like black seeds into the mixtures. Whisk the two mixtures together and pour over the caramel in the pie pie.

Transfer to the oven and place on the middle rack. Gently pour boiling water into the baking pan until it comes up about half-way up the side of the pie pan. Bake for exactly one hour. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. It will seem pretty jiggly, especially in the middle, but the flan will set more as it cools. It it seems very soupy cook for another 8 – 10 minutes.

After it comes to room temperature (about an hour, probably) cover the flan with plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator. I recommend four hours cooling minimum.

Uncooked and ready for the oven.

Now run a knife along the inside edge of the pan to loosen the flan and place a large plate upside-down over the top of the pie pan. Invert quickly and (hopefully) you’ll have a lovely flan in one, beautiful piece. Pour any excess caramel from the pan all over and around the flan.

Flan-tastic smiles all ’round.

You will go crazzzzy for this flan!

1 thought on “Flan-tastic!

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