I’ve been known to suggest (some might say ‘nag’) ALWAYS setting a timer when directions call for a specific amount of time. Even if it’s 5 minutes! It’s so easy to get distracted.
I, now, need to expand on this edict. Set a timer AND make sure it’s the kind that keeps beeping until you shut it off.
Lesson learnt last night when I ended up having to cook 2 batches of FLAN because I became so engrossed working on my computer that I didn’t hear the timer – even though I was in the same room. By the time I remembered I was baking something, my FLAN had overcooked by 20 degrees, transforming my creamy dessert into rubber. Sigh!
Fortunately, Batch #2 came out perfectly: silky smooth that melts in your mouth.
Note #1: FLAN is a very easy dessert to make, but needs to be prepared the day before to set properly and chill.
Note #2: As Queen of Freeze, I feel obliged to encourage you to freeze the unused egg whites for future use.
- 1/4 cup + 2 T water, divided
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
- 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 T vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
The first thing to do is make the caramel. For those of you multi-taskers, try and restrain yourself to this task – caramel goes from nearly done to burnt in an instant!
In a sturdy saucepan (I use my All-Clad for this – it conducts heat evenly), pour in 1/4 cup water. Add sugar in the center of the pan, not letting the sugar touch the sides. Very carefully stir water into the sugar so it’s completely moistened but still not touching the sides of the pan or it could crystallize.
Turn the burner to medium/high and let sugar-water boil – without stirring – until it begins to turn golden – about 5 minutes. You’ll notice it becoming thicker as the water evaporates. Once it’s golden in a few spots, slowly swirl the pan to even out the caramelization. It will continue to darken in color. When it’s light brown throughout, lower the heat to very low, continuing to swirl. Once it becomes reddish color (and you may see steam puff up), swirl in 2 T water. Immediately pour caramel into a loaf pan. (You can use either a metal or glass loaf pan, but cooking time will vary accordingly.)
At this time, preheat oven to 300º Fahrenheit and boil about 4 cups of water.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and yolks together, just until blended. Add in the condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk together gently – you don’t want air pockets. (I’ve found sliding my whisk down the sides and lifting it up in the center, letting the liquids run back into the bowl, works well.)
Hold a strainer over the loaf pan and pour egg mixture through it onto the caramel – the strainer will catch unwanted tiny bits. Cover with foil. Put loaf pan in a larger pan (such as a casserole dish), and pour the boiling water around the loaf pan to about halfway up the side of the casserole dish.
Place in oven and bake at 300º F for about 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes). SET TIMER! The goal is for the flan to reach 180º F – you need to use a thermometer for this. If you’re using a metal pan, it will probably be done. The glass Pyrex loaf pans are not as wide, and taller so, if you’re using glass, plan on another 20 minutes.
Once the flan reaches 180º F, remove from oven, leaving it in the water bath for 90 minutes, UNcovered. Then, remove pan from water bath, cover with the foil, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
To serve, run a round tipped knife (so it doesn’t scratch the metal pan) along the sides, place serving platter on top, and invert. The flan will plop down. Carefully lift off loaf pan. You can scrape any caramel remaining in the loaf pan over the top of the FLAN – one can never have too much caramel!