Sophisticated Flan

by Min Merrell

I recently got back on a flan jag and, again, said to myself, Why don’t I make this more often?  It’s a perfect dessert for entertaining and sneaking bites directly from the refrigerator.  Selfishly, this recipe is on our website, not only to share but so I can find it easily and remember to make it more often.

Do you make custard ice cream? I do, and I enjoy having an electric model with the removable freezable container so we don’t have to fool with ice.  Too bad, it’s usually in the pantry instead of in my overpacked freezer.  When that happens, the perfect dessert option instead of ice cream is flan, the creamy, eggy custard with burnt sugar caramel syrup.  Try this ginger ice cream if your ice cream maker is ready to go!  It’s definitely an old favorite.

Now back to flan, it’s perfect for entertaining because you must make it ahead–a day or two is great.  It’s innately sophisticated because of the caramel glaze, and you can dress it up according to the season and occasion.  The picture here is our summer version with fresh berries.  And to gild the lily, go ahead and pass a plate of broken bitter chocolates or crisp sugar cookies. You can go in any direction.  That’s usually a big bonus for me and a recurring theme on this website…take a recipe in any direction that suits you, your world, and your occasion.

If you are not an experienced cook, flan offers plenty of valuable cooking lessons. Get in there and do it! It’s not hard, and you’ll be rewarded with plenty of praise and good eats.

You’ll learn about tempering eggs.  This means adding some of the hot liquid to the beaten eggs so that when you add the eggs to the remaining hot milk, they don’t cook immediately and curdle.

You’ll learn how to make a caramelized sugar syrup. Just take it easy and watch it turn brown.  It may seem like it will never happen, and then, poof, the liquid sugar starts browning before your eyes.  When it’s the color of amber, get off the heat and pour it into the baking dish!

You’ll learn about a water bath.  That means creating a gentle barrier between the custard and the oven heat by placing the baking dish in a larger pan of simmering water during baking.  Any bigger pan will do; it just needs to accommodate the flan pan along with a couple of inches.  Put the flan pan in the bigger pan first, and then fill the bigger pan about halfway up with water.

I’m big on setting dessert in the middle of the table after a great dinner.  Let everyone appreciate its beauty and serve themselves.  And then have a little more.


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