VANILLA BEAN FLAN
(Serves 8 large slices or 16 small, unless my husband is joining you.)
Every time someone tells me they “hate flan”, I tell them it’s because they had a bad flan. Bad flan is responsible for many people (including myself) *thinking* flan isn’t their thing, but I assure you, this isn’t a bad flan! This is a *redemption flan*! Give it a shot…let me change your mind!
My redemption flan happened in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had just eaten a dinner that I was *exceptionally* unhappy with (rainbow trout over rice in brown butter sauce…I will never forget it) and decided to order dessert to fill myself up since I basically left my entire dinner on the plate. I figured it couldn’t get much worse so I gave something I had sworn off a second chance; flan. Goat milk flan to be specific.
I hate goat milk.
I thought I hated flan.
I still ordered it.
I’m not sure what came over me, but boy, was that a good choice!
I spent the next 2 years trying to find a similar goat milk flan recipe to no avail. This one doesn’t have goat milk (although I would love to hear about it if you substitute it in this recipe!) but it does have the exact same creamy and luscious texture. It’s divine, you guys. Heavenly. SO GOOD. And easy! You don’t need any fancy equipment, you won’t have to wash a million ramekins when you’re done and it presents SO beautifully that everyone will think you’ve been making this your whole life!
The trickiest part of this recipe is the caramel making step. It can be really tough at first but I’m going to make it as simple as possible for you. First, only use WHITE sugar. I know, I know. But trust me, using any sugar that is even remotely natural (meaning not pure white) will burn much easier and will drive you bananas trying to gauge. Next, plan on burning it the first time. It’s pretty much guaranteed so plan ahead and make sure you have a little extra sugar to do it again. Lastly, trust the color. Once it’s a rich amber color and no longer has sugar crystals, pull that puppy IMMEDIATELY and put it in the pan. It burns FAST once it reaches the point of being “done.” Please search the hashtag #hthwithflan on Instagram for a video tutorial on the caramel!
What you will need:
1 9x2 inch cake pan. I use Wilton’s 2105-7908 Aluminum “Performance Pan”
That’s it. See? Easy!
1 ½ cups WHITE sugar, plus an extra ½ cup
6 eggs (if medium or large.) 5 eggs (if extra large.)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (I stick to La Lechera brand)
2 13 oz cans evaporated milk
½ vanilla bean
Preheat your oven to 325*
Prepare the custard:
In a blender, mix the cans of milk. Blend until completely combined.
Add the sugar, and blend again.
Now, add the eggs and blend, blend, blend.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out all the beans you can get. Add these, and blend again. (Use a tsp of vanilla if you can’t find beans. Yes, they are spendy but its soooo worth it!!!)
Leave this in the blender for a sec while you…
Prepare the caramel:
In a stainless steel skillet (or whatever you have that can be whisked in), over medium heat, add 1 ½ cups white sugar. Allow the sugar to sit without disturbing it for just a bit as the edges start to melt. Once the sugar begins to melt around the edges and turn a golden honey color, give it a bit of a whisk. Work from the edges *in*, keeping the edges incorporated in the center. The edges will try to burn first so I do my best to pull it toward the center. Once it is a honey colored syrup with what looks like sugar crystals all throughout, begin to whisk regularly. Don’t be too vigorous (some say the whisking is what causes the crystals but frankly when I don’t whisk it, its burns every time) but keep it moving. As the process comes closer to the end, you’ll have just a few crystals to break up with your whisk, and you’ll be whisking almost constantly. Adjust heat as needed, as everyone’s stove is different. Once it is melted and that delicious golden amber color, IMMEDIATELY transfer the caramel to your cake pan. No need to grease or anything, just pour it in! If you need to swirl the pan to make it evenly distribute (you shouldn’t have to, it should be just fine without any help) just make sure you use a hot pad. That pan will get really hot, really fast. BE CAREFUL.
Again, for a video tutorial, search the hashtag #hthwithflan (honoring the home with flan) and I have a multi-video tutorial there for you!
Assemble the Flan:
Now that the caramel is in the cake pan, quickly go over and give that blender another buzz. You want to make sure everything is completely combined.
Slowly and carefully pour the custard mixture from the blender directly over the caramel. You will notice that the caramel doesn’t budge and is already as hard as a rock. You may also hear cracking and popping…this is normal. J
Next up, create your water bath. Sloooowwwly place the flan (using hot pads) into a roasting pan, or other oven safe vessel that can accommodate the cake pan. Carefully cover your flan with foil, making sure you don’t burn your fingers on the hot pan. Pour water into the larger pan, filling it up about an inch with water. There’s a video on this in the #hthwithflan hashtag too!
Transfer the whole big ol’ thing to your oven, on the middle rack. Bake for 90 minutes. Check it for doneness at this point. You want a knife to go in and come out about 90% clean. It should jiggle quite a bit. If it is not quite done, continue baking in 5 minute increments, checking for doneness each time. It takes exactly 95 minutes in my oven, but everyone’s can be a little different.
Once cooked through, remove the flan/roasting pan and allow to cool down some before removing the flan from the hot water bath. (about 30 minutes.)
Set the flan on the counter and allow it to come to room temperature before refrigerating.
To un-mold, slide a butter knife or offset spatula around the edge of the flan. Put your serving plate (which should be wider than you think you need) centered on the cake pan. Invert the flan by flipping the pan/plate stack over. Say a quick prayer for it to fall out properly. LOL! I have never had a flan *not* come out in one piece this way, but there’s always a first time for everything. If it breaks or cracks, (it probably wont), just remember that broken flan tastes just as good.
Serve in slices with a scoop of the caramel sauce over the top.
Now, swoon and go ahead and admit it…you like flan!
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