How can I Make Flan?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 10 January 2019
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Flan, also known as creme caramel outside of Spanish-speaking countries and the United States, is a custard-based dessert topped with a layer of caramel. It originated in Europe and later became very popular in Central and South America. Many people from the United States are familiar with this dessert through Mexican or South American cuisine. While there are many instant products available on the market, you can also make flan from scratch using easy-to-find ingredients and kitchen supplies. Making this custard is a bit difficult, but many cooks find that it is well worth the effort.

Basically, flan is a regular custard cooked in a pan lined with caramel. You can make individual servings in custard cups or a large sheet to be cut into portions when serving. The ease with which large amounts of custard could be made was in part responsible for the dessert's popularity in European and Latin American restaurants.

Below is a basic recipe, but once you have mastered this, you can experiment with flavored versions. In Valencia, Spain, for instance, the milk is replaced with the juice of Valencia oranges to create a regional favorite.


The first step in making flan is to make the caramel topping. Caramel is simply melted sugar, so to make this part, heat 0.25 cup (59.1 ml) water and 0.75 cup (150 g) sugar over medium to low heat in a saucepan. If sugar adheres to the side of the pan, use a moistened pastry brush to dislodge it.

Watch the pot closely, and remove it from the flame when the sugar begins to thicken and turn golden brown. It is easy to overcook caramel, so be vigilant. Put two ice cubes into the pan to stop it from cooking further. Next, pour the caramel into the baking pans, swirling it around to coat the sides evenly. Use a 9-inch (23-cm) diameter pan or smaller individual cups.

To make the custard, combine 2 cups (473.1 ml) of milk with the zest of one lemon, a cinnamon stick, and 0.25 teaspoon (4.5 g) salt, and bring just to a boil. While the milk mixture is cooling, beat six whole eggs, three egg yolks, 1.5 cups (300 g) sugar, and 1 teaspoon (4.9 ml) vanilla in a large bowl until uniform. Next, add the milk to the egg mixture, then strain the custard into the molds.

To cook the flan, place the molds into a larger dish filled with hot water. If you are using multiple molds, they should not be touching each other. Bake them in a 350°F (177°C) oven for about an hour, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the the molds until warm, then cover each with a serving plate and quickly turn it over to remove the custard. You can serve this dessert warm or refrigerate it to serve it cold.


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Post 9

What should I do if I don't have ramekins and want to make a whole big flan?

Post 8

@fify-- That should work, as long as everything is deep enough. If you want to make flan desserts again though, I suggesting getting some ramekins. Ramekins are perfect for individual sized flans. Unless you prefer making a larger one and than slicing it. I personally like it in the ramekins. I find flan difficult to slice.

I don't have any tips for chocolate flan. I've only made plain and almond flan until now but chocolate flan sounds really good too. Are you just going to put cocoa powder into the custard?

Almond flan is super easy, you just add almond extract, that's it. I also use sliced almonds to decorate.

Post 7

Okay, so I don't have special molds to put the flan in. I was thinking of just putting it in a souffle pan or something similar and then putting that into my roasting pan.

That will work right? I don't want to ruin this. I'm making it for a get-together with friends.

Oh, and any tips for chocolate flan?

Post 6
@anon14952-- I'm not sure if you can make the caramel topping with artificial sweetener. I'm guessing not, but you can definitely make the flan pudding that way. If you get the kind of artificial sweetener sold in grocery stores for baking, that might be easier.

Keep in mind folks that there are diabetics out there who cannot have sugar. So if they want to make and try a dessert like flan, they will have to leave the sugar out. Of course, the original recipe for flan calls for regular white sugar. But diabetics can still have flan as long as they make it with artificial sweeteners.

Plus, flan has milk in it and milk desserts are better for diabetics than other types. Milk causes blood sugar to rise more slowly.

Post 5

Wow..My 14 year old daughter picked this as her Spanish dish to pass. we made a trial dish before school, and we went threw a lot of sugar making the caramel! it was the hardest. we learned how to make rock candy. we are waiting for the finished product now.

Post 4

splenda is actually really bad for you, so use sugar. look it up. anything like that is.

Post 3

the sugar needs to melt.

Post 2

I think you can, as long as you know the measurements of the packets equaling to the amount of sugar.

Post 1

I'm Sofia and i am wondering if I could use splenda instead of regular sugar.

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