My husband loves flan, probably more than any other dessert that exists, and so I’ve been perfecting my flan recipe over the last few years. I have several versions that have gotten his stamp of approval and I’m sharing one here with you today. I promise flan is way easier than you’d think!
We’re going to use one small cheat, though. We’re going to use store-bought caramel sauce here (preferably cajeta if you can find it) because it cuts out a little bit of time and mess. And with an apartment kitchen, I’m all about less mess and dishes to clean up when I just want to whip up something yummy in short order. If you’ve got kids, I’m betting you feel the same way too.
The best part about this recipe is that if you start with the base ingredients and then divide the liquid (before adding the water), you could conceivably make 10 individual-sized servings in 10 different flavors! All you have to do is substitute fruit nectar or whole fruit puree (berries work particularly well) for the water.
Recently, I’ve been seeing blackberries everywhere at the markets, so the flan pictured here substituted a pint of blackberries and 2 tablespoons of water.
If you plan to use fruit nectar to make a flavored flan, here are some options I recommend: mango, peach, guava, apricot, pineapple, tamarind and soursop (called guanábana in Spanish). The sky is the limit though, and if you find another flavor you want to try, just go for it! Whenever I’m trying out new flavors, I just divide up the basic recipe into four portions so if it doesn’t turn out the way I want with one flavor, at least I didn’t waste the rest of the batter and I have three more left.
- 4 large eggs
- 1 or 2 additional egg yolks (depending on the consistency you want; more yolk means firmer flan)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12-oz. can of evaporated milk
- Variable ingredient: you can either make plain flan by adding 1 cup of water, or a fruit-flavored flan by adding 1 cup of fruit nectar. You can also add in fresh fruit such as berries, if you prefer.
- Store-bought caramel sauce; preferably cajeta (to put in the bottom of the dish)
- A rectangular or square baking pan that’s at least a few inches deep for the water bath, and an oven-proof glass dish for the flan.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Start by covering the bottom of your dish (or dishes) with a generous layer of caramel sauce. You don’t want it to be more than about a quarter inch thick at the most, but don’t make it too thin either, or your flan will not have any liquid or sauce when it comes out of the mold.
Put all ingredients into your blender and mix well. Pour gently into the caramel-covered dish and leave about a half-inch at the top. Over-filling the dish can cause spillage in the oven so be careful to leave enough room.
Place the glass dish inside of the baking pan and add water to the pan until the pan is about half-full. This will help the caramel at the bottom turn into a nice, drippy sauce and also prevents the flan from getting dried out or burned. Place the pan inside the pre-heated oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the top of the flan turns golden brown and you can insert a knife or toothpick without any liquid coming out.
Remove from the oven and the water bath and set on a towel on the counter to cool. When it’s at almost room temperature, loosen the sides with a rubber spatula or a knife and invert the flan over a serving plate. If I’m not serving it right away, I like to refrigerate the flan for an hour or two to chill it before eating. You can always wait to remove it from the mold until you’re ready to actually serve it, if you prefer. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Note: you can also use a convection oven such as Kenmore’s Elite Infrared Convection Toaster Oven to bake the flan. The only change to make in the method for baking is to use a smaller baking pan for the water bath that will fit in the convection oven, and use smaller glass dishes for each flan. This will decrease the amount of cooking time needed by a bit, so just watch them to see when the top starts to turn golden and have your toothpicks ready.