Flan…it may mean nothing to you or it may mean everything to you. To my Cuban family, it’s definitely the latter. If you aren’t familiar with flan, it’s a Latin American dessert that is similar to a vanilla custard. Many Latin American countries claim it as “theirs”, but in my completely biased opinion I say there is nothing better than Cuban flan. I’ve had flan in many Latin American restaurants and homes over the years. They all seem too light…too watery…and definitely not sweet enough. Cubans have a sweet tooth. Blame it on a country full of sugar cane.
My flan recipe is my mother’s. It is a very sweet and dense mouthful of heaven. She passed away a few years ago and in losing her, we lost most of our precious family recipes. She was the type of cook whose recipes were in her head, not in a cookbook. A few years before she became ill, I was wise enough to follow her around the kitchen to jot down a few of her recipes. Her flan lives on because of it and my siblings and I are able to happily replicate it. This tangible piece of our mother is what makes this recipe so incredibly special and why flan is so important to us.
Here is Mima’s Flan…
- 2 – 12 oz cans of evaporated milk
- 1 – 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
- 6 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs (beaten together)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 or 1/2 cup sugar (your preference)
- First step is to caramelize the sugar
- Pour sugar into a large bread pan
- Heat pan over stove burner on medium to medium high heat. Shake the pan occasionally to keep the sugar from burning. Tilt pan while sugar is caramelizing being sure to coat the entire pan and about an inch or so up the sides.
- Let the pan cool
- While pan is cooling, mix remaining ingredients in large bowl.
- Strain mixture through a fine metal strainer into the cooled pan. This catches all the larger egg white clumps and makes the flan silky smooth.
- Cover pan tightly with foil
- Place pan into a Baño de Maria which is the Spanish name for a water bath. To make, take a deep baking dish (I use a lasagna pan) and place the bread pan inside. Fill with water so that water reaches about halfway up the sides of the bread pan.
- Bake in a oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Check at about an hour and half for doneness.
- Flan is completely cooked when knife inserted is clean and when it is “set” when shaken, but not completely solid
- Let pan cool on counter and then refrigerate for at least an hour
- Run knife around edge of pan to loosen and invert onto plate
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve
- Flan is best when refrigerated overnight, but can be served after a minimum of 6 hours.
Mima’s flan always puts a smile on my face!
I hope you get a chance to try my mother’s flan and I hope you enjoy it. If you have a member of your family who’s cooking you love, take the time to get the recipes. You never know when life will change and the opportunity will be lost. Keep those memories alive through the love of good food!