Flan is a type of custard. You may find savory varieties throughout Europe, but flan is dulce in Latin America. And it is good. There are only six ingredients in most recipes, yet flan can be very difficult to make. In fact, I have been quite intimidated by the flan for quite some time. It doesn't help that my future in-laws make fabulous flan...such big shoes to fill!
Fortunately, I have a friend who, too, is a gringa. We met through our men, as her husband is also a Cuban Knight (that is, he is of Cuban descent and attended the University of Central Florida). We figured with our gringa powers combined, and with the help of her suegra, we could tackle the most daunting dessert in all the land!
Here you have it, folks. Flan, courtesy of Señora M:
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Combine flan ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Sra. M cracking some eggs
Next, combine sugar and water in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Do not over-stir. Just make sure the entire mixture is the same color (no dry sugar allowed).
This next part is hard. Just watch that pan and let it sit there. Do not touch it. While you are waiting, get a water bath going, as you would for cheesecake.
Sra. M's mother-in-law told us to "wait until you can smell it" or "until it turns golden brown." Well, that's the kind of vague, mystical instructions that I feel most gringas can't handle. I'm a scientist! I need numbers! I want exact amounts! A few minutes later, we started to smell it, but it still wasn't the right color. As we debated what to do next, the mixture magically changed color to golden brown...almost instantaneously.
The boys can smell it. Don't they look like meercats here?
That step is the trick. If you get that part right, you're good. Next, pour your new caramel into an ungreased loaf pan. ¡Cuidado! This stuff is hot! Tip the loaf pan back and forth so that the caramel covers the entire bottom and as much of the sides as possible. This is tricky too, because the caramel cools quickly. It's much easier to move liquid around than it is to move molasses around, so try to work quickly. Every time I've had flan with my future in-laws, it's round. This was hard enough to get it in a loaf pan, and I think it would be much more difficult to cover a round pan effectively.
Our covered pan
Next, pour your flan batter over the caramel. Place in a roasting pan and pour the water bath around it. Place in the oven and bake at 400˚ for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
When it's done baking, it should look like this:
Let it cool overnight in the fridge. Serve it cold.
Custard's last stand...for it shall soon be eaten.