Classic Flan

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Indulge in the smooth and sweet delight of Classic Flan, a luxurious caramel custard treat also known as Crème Caramel. This culinary masterpiece is a harmonious blend of eggs, cream, sugar, and fragrant vanilla bean, resulting in a dessert that’s as decadent as it is elegant. While it may seem like a complex creation, fear not—we’ll guide you through the process, revealing just how simple it is to craft this stunning dessert for any occasion.

Classic Flan on a white plate with blackberries, whipped cream, and mint.

Flan, a beloved dessert enjoyed in various cultures around the world, boasts a fascinating history that spans centuries. Originating in ancient Rome, where it was known as “tyropatina,” a mixture of milk, honey, and eggs baked in a pastry shell, flan has undergone numerous transformations throughout its journey across continents and cultures.

During the Middle Ages, Arab influences brought variations of flan to Spain, where it evolved into what we recognize today as “flan.” The Spanish further refined the recipe, incorporating local ingredients such as eggs, sugar, and dairy, resulting in the creamy custard dessert we know and love.

As Spanish explorers ventured to the New World, they brought flan with them, introducing it to Latin America and the Caribbean. Each region added its own unique twist to the classic recipe, incorporating local flavors like coconut, cinnamon, and rum.

In the 16th century, flan gained popularity among European nobility, becoming a symbol of wealth and refinement. It was often served as a lavish dessert at grand banquets and royal feasts, adorned with elaborate decorations and garnishes.

Today, flan remains a beloved dessert enjoyed across the globe, cherished for its velvety texture, rich flavor, and cultural significance. Whether served as a simple treat or a decadent finale to a gourmet meal, flan continues to captivate the hearts—and taste buds—of dessert enthusiasts everywhere, embodying the timeless allure of culinary tradition and innovation.

The Irresistible Texture of Flan: A Silky-Smooth Sensation

Flan is renowned for its luxurious and distinct texture, which plays a significant role in its appeal to dessert lovers worldwide. Here’s what makes the texture of flan so irresistible:

  1. Silky-Smooth Consistency: Flan boasts a velvety-smooth consistency that melts in your mouth with each decadent bite. This silky texture is achieved through the careful blending of ingredients and the gentle cooking process.

  2. Creamy Custard Base: At its core, flan is a custard-based dessert made from eggs, milk, and sugar. When properly prepared, the custard sets into a firm yet delicate texture that is both creamy and indulgent.

  3. Caramelized Exterior: The caramelized sugar coating on the bottom of the flan adds another dimension to its texture. As the caramel melts during baking, it creates a luscious sauce that envelops the custard, enhancing its richness and depth of flavor.

  4. Balanced Density: Flan strikes the perfect balance between density and lightness, with a structure that is firm enough to hold its shape yet soft enough to yield to the slightest pressure. This balance contributes to the overall sensory experience of enjoying flan.

  5. Uniform Smoothness: One of the hallmarks of a well-made flan is its uniform smoothness, free from any lumps or air pockets. Achieving this consistency requires careful preparation and cooking techniques, such as straining the custard mixture and baking in a water bath.

In summary, the texture of flan is a harmonious blend of creamy custard and caramelized sweetness, creating a sensory experience that is as delightful to the palate as it is to the senses.

Overhead view of Classic Flan out of a rectangular silicone mold.

Mastering the Art of Flan: Crafting the Perfect Creamy Dessert

Flan, with its silky texture and caramelized sweetness, is a dessert that exudes elegance and sophistication. Here’s how to master the art of making the perfect flan:

  1. Choose Quality Ingredients: Start with the best ingredients possible. Opt for fresh eggs, high-quality dairy (such as whole milk and heavy cream), and pure vanilla extract for the best flavor and texture.

  2. Prepare the Caramel: The caramel is key to the success of your flan. To achieve a rich amber color and deep flavor, heat granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until it melts and turns golden brown. Be sure to watch it closely to avoid burning.

  3. Coat the Mold: Once the caramel is ready, carefully pour it into the bottom of your flan mold or ramekins. Tilt the mold to evenly coat the bottom and sides with the caramel. Allow it to cool and harden before adding the custard mixture.

  4. Make the Custard: In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract until smooth and well combined. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps for a silky-smooth texture.

  5. Bake in a Water Bath: Place the caramel-coated mold or ramekins in a larger baking dish and carefully pour hot water into the dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the mold. This gentle water bath ensures even cooking and prevents the custard from curdling.

  6. Bake to Perfection: Bake the flan in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 325°F or 160°C) until set but still slightly jiggly in the center. This usually takes about 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of your mold.

  7. Chill and Unmold: Allow the flan to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight to chill and set completely. To unmold, carefully run a knife around the edges of the flan and invert it onto a serving plate.

  8. Serve and Enjoy: Slice the flan into wedges and serve chilled, garnished with fresh berries or a drizzle of caramel sauce if desired. The creamy texture and delicate flavor of your homemade flan are sure to impress your guests and leave them craving more.

Classic Flan plated and garnished with fresh berries.
Overhead view of Classic Flan out of a rectangular silicone mold.

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Classic Flan on a white plate with blackberries, whipped cream, and mint.

Preserving Creamy Delights: Storing Flan for Lasting Freshness

Here’s how to store flan to maintain its creamy texture and flavor:

  1. Cooling: Allow the flan to cool to room temperature after baking or setting. Avoid leaving it out at room temperature for too long to prevent bacterial growth.

  2. Refrigeration: Once cooled, cover the flan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator. Make sure the wrapping is tight to prevent any moisture from seeping in and affecting the texture of the flan.

  3. Airtight Container: If you have leftover slices of flan, transfer them to an airtight container before refrigerating. This helps to keep the flan fresh and prevents it from absorbing any odors from other foods in the refrigerator.

  4. Serve Chilled: Flan is best served chilled, so keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. Remove it from the refrigerator shortly before serving to allow it to come to slightly cooler than room temperature for the best flavor and texture.

Shelf Life: When stored properly in the refrigerator, flan can last for 3-4 days. However, for the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to consume it within 2-3 days of preparation.

By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy the creamy goodness of flan for several days, whether as a delightful dessert after a meal or a sweet treat for any occasion.

How to Make Classic Flan: Crème Caramel

Classic Flan on a white plate with blackberries, whipped cream, and mint.

Classic Flan | Crème Caramel

Smooth and sweet Classic Flan is a caramel custard treat! Also known as Crème caramel it's the perfect alchemy of eggs, cream, sugar, and a sweet vanilla bean. It may seem a little involved to make but we break it down and you'll see just how easy it is to create a showy dessert for any occasion.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

  • (6) 3/4 cup Ramekins or
  • Silicone Molds

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups (420 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk, do not sub low fat-milk of any kind
  • pinch Pink Himalayan Sea Salt or Kosher Sea Salt, finely ground
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise + deseeded
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) water
  • 3 large eggs, organic Pete + Gerry's
  • 2 large egg yolks, organic Pete + Gerry's
  • 7 Tablespoons (105 grams) sugar

Instructions

  • Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F/175°C
    Preheat the oven photo
  • Slice the vanilla bean down the center with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds to remove them...
    Vanilla bean cut down the middle and scraped of it's seeds.
  • Add the cream, milk, Pink Himalayan sea salt, vanilla bean, and vanilla bean seeds to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, over medium-low heat, after it starts steaming, remove the saucepan from the burner, set aside and steep for 30 minutes.
    Cream, milk, and ingredients in a saucepan for making flan.
  • Meanwhile, combine the 1 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Then increase the heat to high and cook without stirring until the syrup turns a deep amber color, swirling the pan if necessary. See VIDEO above for help with understanding what color you want your caramel. This process takes about 10 minutes but you must watch it like a hawk because it goes from golden to burned in seconds. If you burn it at all toss it and start again.
    Sugar and water in saucepan for making caramel.
  • Quickly, but carefully spoon or pour the caramel into (6) 3/4-cup ramekins or silicone molds.
    Silicone molds with caramel coating the sides.
  • Using oven mitts immediately tilt each ramekin to coat sides. Set ramekins into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish that's been lined with a thick kitchen towel.
    Ramekins coated with dark caramel for making flan.
  • Add the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar to a glass bowl....
    Eggs, egg yolks, and sugar to make custard for flan.
  • whisk until just blended.
    Eggs beat in a glass bowl for flan.
  • Remove the vanilla bean and gently whisk the cream mixture into the eggs, being careful not to overbeat the custard. You don't want to add air/foam, so use a gentle stroke.
    Ingredients for flan ready to be blended together.
  • Pour the custard through a fine-meshed sieve
    Custard being poured through a fine-meshed sieve for Classic Flan.
  • Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins or silicone molds and then fill the 9x13 baking dish with hot tap water (not boiling) halfway up the molds to create a Baine Marie bath.
    Custard in silicone mold to make flan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until gently set and golden about 40 minutes, transfer to a rack to cool for about 2 hours and then wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
    Flan after being cooked in the oven to a golden brown.
  • Run a small sharp knife around the edge of the flan to loosen.
    Flan being released from silicone mold.
  • Place a plate on top of the mold and invert...
    Silicone mold inverted on plate to release flan.
  • Shake gently to release the flan.
    Plated flan on large white serving platter for party.
  • Serve with fresh berries and mint if desired (whipped cream is not a classic addition to flan by any means, BUT we had some leftover heavy cream and our guests thought it was magical)
    Plated flan with berries and whipped cream, ready to be eaten.

Notes

  • Prep time is approximate (as always) follow the steps you'll be right on target.
  • Classic Flan can be made up to 2 days ahead of time! 
  • Store in the fridge wrapped tightly in plastic wrap up to 5 days. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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    1. Love your recipes! Flan is delicious and it’s been on my “to-bake” list for awhile. I definitely need to try this recipe!

      1. Thanks so much, you’ll be glad you did, Colleen!! 🙂

    2. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I tried flan a few times as a kid and never liked it, but I want to try it again as an adult.

      1. Thanks so much for checking out our recipe, Erika! Flan may be an acquired taste for some you may like it now that your palate is developing 🙂

    3. I’ve always wanted to make homemade flan. I am so excited to try this recipe!

      1. Awesome, Tamara! Please be sure to share the results with us @meangreenchef 😀

    4. Can stevia be used to make the caramel sauce? This looks divine.

      1. great question, Karen! No, actually you cannot caramelize stevia, I wish I had an alternative but the caramel is really key to this great tasting dish! Thanks so much for stopping by 😀

    5. I’m salivating…do you know that this is one of my favourite dessert when I was little? We call it Creme Brulee & we only make it on special occasion. I would love to use your recipe to make this at home. Thank you sharing yet another delicious recipe!

      1. Awww, thanks so much, Jane!! Please be sure to share your results with us when you make this, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as Creme Brulee! 🙂

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