Flaons, pronounced "FLAY-awns" with an emphasis on the first syllable, are filled pastries that are most often made with cheese inside. These pastries originate from a number of countries in Southwestern Europe called the Iberian Peninsula, and in some surrounding regions. They can be sweet or savory and come in many shapes that can be single-serving or large enough to feed a family. Most flaons are handheld buns made for one person to eat, but some flaons are larger, shaped like pies, and are sliced and served to multiple people. The singular name for each pastry is flaó.
This dish started out as a food made for Easter celebrations, but has come to be a popular year-round food. In addition to differing the shape of this pastry, each region that serves it has a traditional local filling, which generally includes a regionally popular, usually locally produced cheese. Types of cheese used in these pastries are widely varied, and include soft cheese like cottage cheese and soft goat cheese, as well as a number of hard, aged cheeses. Sweet, soft cheese versions of this pastry are sometimes compared to cheesecake.
Though most flaons are filled with some type of cheese, they do not by definition have to be filled with any cheese. Some of these pastries are filled with jam or honey. Sweet versions of this pastry are sometimes sprinkled with sugar or drizzled with honey.
These pastries have differing shapes in the many regions of the Iberian Peninsula in which they are commonly prepared. They can made in individual servings that come in the form of small buns, of they can made in the form of pies that are sliced and served. Flaons that serve multiple people are often called flaons grande.
Some flaons grande are covered with a top crust, like a traditional pie, while some have only the bottom crust. Pies without a top crust are often called flaon tarts. Like other tarts, flaon tarts are sometimes covered in sliced fruit. Tiny, snack-size single-serving flaons are called flaonets.
The Iberian Peninsula, sometimes called Iberia, is an area of Southwestern Europe that includes countries like Spain, Portugal, and Andorra. This pastry, a sweet cheese version flavored with orange juice and anise, is widely popular on a Spanish island called Ibiza, a city well-known for its tourism and nightlife. Ibiza is one of four Mediterranean islands known as the Balearic Islands.