Trying My Hand at Spanish Flan
I have wanted to try my hand at cooking Flan for a long, long time. It is one of my favorite desserts and I think the ones prepared and served at Oscar’s Mexican Restaurant in Haltom City, close to my home, are some of the best I’ve ever eaten.
My family gets together periodically for a dinner where a menu is planned by the hostess and calls put out to the other members of the family to bring certain dishes that will enhance the meal – Italian, Mexican, Indian, Fish and Chips, American hot dogs and apple pie – you get my drift.
I was the hostess of the month this past week and decided we would have a Mexican meal, complete with homemade salsa, cheese caso, guacamole, chips, enchiladas, refried beans, Spanish rice, top-shelf margaritas, and YES, Flan!
I have read a dozen recipes for Flan and thought how hard could it really be? Well, turns out it wasn’t hard. I did a practice run on my husband and next-door neighbors with two different recipes and decided to tweak the original recipe that I found on-line. W. J. Rayment has a flan recipe for the Holidays at Holiday Cook.. I used his recipe and added more sugar and vanilla to make it a little sweeter.
I wanted to order appetizer tamales from a fantastic cook, Nana’s Tamales, who had a small take-out restaurant close to my home. I called ahead, taking the phone number from their internet site, but discovered Nana’s had moved out of the storefront where I first discovered them. I called the new number and Nana’s daughter actually answered. She was very kind but was on vacation and had not moved into a new location. So I had to tell my family there would be no tamales that night. The only surprise was the flan.
Ingredients for my custard flan are 1 cup of granulated sugar for caramelized topping, 1 can of evaporated milk (12 oz.), 1 1/2 cups whole milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar for the custard, 4 large eggs, and 2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring.
You can use 6 Flan molds or any 8 oz. oven-safe, smooth-sided dish to bake Flan. I lined them up in a row in a rectangular 9x14x2½ roasting pan. Then I placed the cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan and placed it directly over medium heat on the stove-top. Watch closely and stir the sugar constantly. It will brown and turn to liquid. Do not let the sugar scorch or it will be bitter. Continue to stir until the sugar becomes thick, syrupy and dark brown. Remove from heat and distribute the caramelized sugar equally across the bottom of the Flan molds. Swirl the caramel to coat the inside and let the dishes cool. The sugar will almost immediately harden, but once it is baked with the custard, it will liquefy and remain that way.
In a mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients: evaporated milk, whole milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk the ingredients together with a wire whisk until the eggs are no longer recognizable as white or yoke. This step does not take long – do not whisk until the mixture becomes frothy. Now distribute the custard mixture in the various Flan molds or dishes.
Place the rectangular baking pan into a cold oven on the middle rack. Carefully pour about 1 – 1½ inches of very hot water into the pan – do not let water go over the side of the Flan molds. Carefully push in the rack and close the oven door. Set oven to 350° F – do not preheat. Bake for 1 hour. Test for doneness by inserting the blade of a butter knife into centers. If the knife comes out clean, then the custard has fully cooked.
When done, remove individual Flans from roasting pan and place on a rack to cool. It can be served warm or chilled in the refrigerator. To serve, run a butter knife around the top of the Flan where it is connected to the mold. I chose to use small dessert plates to serve the individual Flans. Place the dish upside down on top of the Flan mold and flip over. Since it is hot use a towel to protect your fingers and carefully jiggle the mold off so the Flan falls in one piece onto the plate. The caramelized sugar will form a sauce over the Flan. There will be hard sugar remaining in the bottom of the molds, but do not attempt to scrape this out to add to the sauce. Soak the molds in hot, soapy water as this remaining sugar is a little hard to get off. I placed my Flans on their individual serving dishes in the refrigerator until time to serve.
All of the family enjoyed the Flan and one of my sisters even asked me if I had really made them myself! I think that is a huge compliment.