This recipe is for the type of flan that is eaten all over the Spanish speaking Caribbean. To me there is something so special about this recipe. Starting with its simplicity. It uses condensed and evaporated milk, which makes it silky and firm. That something so delicious was created from shelf-stable products, often bought in scarcity when fresh milk wasn't available or could not be afforded, highlights not only the ingenuity that is often essential in cooking, but also the lush, luxurious quality of this dessert. It reminds me that dessert’s truest purpose is simply to delight and bring pleasure.
2 cans of condensed milk
2 cans evaporated milk
3/4 cup of sugar
9” pan cake pan (not non-stick)
A rectangular pan or a sauté pan big enough to fit the cake pan in. Either must be big enough to hold enough water to make a water bath.
Preheat the oven to 350°
Begin by caramelizing the sugar in the pan. This is the hardest part, but it really isn’t that hard. You just have to pay attention, be careful, and watch your sugar like a hawk so it doesn’t burn. Otherwise this dessert is a cinch.
Sprinkle the sugar evenly on the pan and carefully heat over medium low heat. Once half of the sugar has liquified you could help it along a bit by stiring with a spoon. This will also help even out the caramelization as you often end up with some darker spots that are cooking faster. If you stir it, those spots will not burn.
As soon as the sugar turns to a dark amber color remove it from the heat. The caramel will continue cooking so be sure to take it off the heat before it gets too dark. As soon as it is off the heat, carefully (sugar burns are the worst!) coat the bottom of the pan and a bit of the sides with the caramel. You want to do this quickly as the caramel will start to harden as it cools.
In a medium bowl whisk your eggs until they are completely homogeneous. Add half of one of the cans of the condensed milk and whisk to fully incorpoate. Add the other half and whisk well. Once that first can is incorporated and you have a more liquidy mix you can add the rest of the condensed and evaporated milks one at a time. Whisking after each one. If you feel like there are still globby bits of egg not fully incorporated into the milks you can strain the mixture. Otherwise you can pour it on to the carmelled pan and cover tightly with foil.
Place the flan pan inside your second pan and fill it about halfway up with water. Place this whole thing in the oven.
Cook it in the water bath for about 1 hour and twenty minutes. The timing will always depend on your oven. I like to check mine after an hour and ten. You’ll know it's ready if you insert a toothpick in and it comes out clean.
Once it’s done remove it from the oven. I like to just pull the flan and leave the water bath in the oven until it cools but you can also pull out the whole thing. Whatever feels most comfortable for you. The water will be hot, you are probably aware of this, but it bears mentioning. Either way the most important part is that you don’t leave the flan in the water as it will continue to cook. You'll also want to pull the foil off. Be mindful that there will be steam trapped under the foil.
Let the flan come to room temperature then flip it on to a plate. There will be some liquid caramel when you flip it. A plate with a bit of an edge is ideal but not necessary. Chill it in the fridge to fully firm it up.