• Lorenzo Chavez

My Cuban Flan

This is my recipe, which slices like a cake and melts in your mouth the minute you take a bite. I hope you enjoy it as much as my friends do. The image in this post is from the one I baked for our Christmas 2021 gathering.

Goal:

After years of experimenting, I concluded that to have it slice like a cake and melt in one’s mouth I needed to slowly emulsify all the ingredients during its preparation. I also discovered that this is best achieved by having all the ingredients at room temperature.

Baking Method:
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since Flan is baked inside a hot water bath known as Baño María, or Bain-marie in French,
It is best to get this boiling water out of the way first.

To prepare this bath, bring a large pot of water to boil and then place the pot with the Flan custard mix inside of this pot. I use a 3-quart pot with handles for the custard and a 6-quart pot with handles for the hot water, with one easily fitting inside the other.

Hint:

The simplest way to know how much water to boil is by filling the small pot with water and place it inside the large pot. Then filling the large pot up to the line where the custard mixture would end in the small pot (about two inches from the top). Never have the water come to the top of the small pot or the water will boil into the custard during baking.

Ingredients:

Custard:

1 dozen large organic Brown Eggs
2-14 Oz. cans Condensed Whole Milk – Try La Lechera brand
1-12 Oz. can Evaporated Whole Milk
2 cups of Whole Milk
1/4 + 1/8 Teaspoon of Orange Extract – Try Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract
1/2 Teaspoon of Cinnamon – Try Whole Foods Vietnamese Cinnamon
3 Tablespoons of French Vanilla – Try Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract

Hint:
Note that some cinnamons are too peppery and will change the flavor. The idea is to create a custard where one is not uniquely aware of each ingredient.

Custard Variations:

Lemon Twist

Replace Orange Extract with 1/4 teaspoon Lemon Extract and increase Cinnamon to ½ teaspoon.
Fall Delight
Replace one cup of whole milk with one 15 ounce can of Pumpkin used in pies. Increase Cinnamon to ½ teaspoon, add ¼ teaspoon of Nutmeg and just a pinch of Ground Ginger.

Caramel:

1 1/2 cup of White Organic Cane Sugar (make sure package says Extra Fine or similar term)
1/2 Teaspoon of Orange Extract (as per above brand)
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla (as per above brand)
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (as per above brand)
3 Tablespoons of water

Making Caramel:

Mix all ingredients in the pot that you will bake Flan in

Cook at medium high temperature, stirring constantly until the sugar starts to melt

Note that sugar gets hard and dry looking before it starts to liquefy

Once fully melted, look for a medium Amber color and then take off the stove

Will know it is ready when spooning the mixture on side of pot starts to stick

Run cold water on the outside of pot while turning it to stop the cooking process

As the Caramel begins to thicken, coat all sides of the pot

Place in refrigerator for ½ hour to cool off before filling

Hints:

Sugar will continue to cook and therefore turn darker after removing form stove, thus the reason for placing against a faucet to stop the process. Remember that if it gets too dark, then it will turn bitter and cannot be used.

The trick is to make it as dark as possible, while preventing this from happening. If not sure, error on the side of safety by making it lighter.

I usually drop some into parchment paper, let it cool off and taste it. If it is too bitter, then I do it again.

Caramel is always best when it has a hint of bitterness to is.
To clean the pot, fill it with hot water and bring to a boil until the hard-caramel dissolves.
Caution:

Burning sugar can spit and spatter. Please wear protective eye gear or glasses.
Making Custard Mix:

Hint:

Always use a wooden spoon.

Method:

Add the Cinnamon to ¼ cup of milk and microwave until hot then still well and set aside

Open the two cans of condensed milk and add the Orange and Vanilla extracts

Pour Cinnamon milk and fold until fully blended

Crack all eggs into a bowl and use an egg whisk just to break up the yolks and combine well

Do not use a mixer or beat the eggs

Pour eggs through a strainer a little at a time into the flavored milk until all blended together

Add Evaporated milk a little at a time and fold until fully integrated

Add whole milk about ¼ cup at a time until the consistency of heavy eggnog

If you taste it, it will seem not sweet enough – Do not add any more Sugar

Caution:

Do not add any salt

Cooking Instructions:
Bring the pot of water back to a boil and remove form stove

Gently still custard mixture again

Pour mixture through a strainer into the pot containing the Caramel coating

Seal very well with aluminum foil

Place inside pot of just boiled water as previously stated, making sure that water covers the pot, but leaving about two inches from the top free of water to prevent water from entering the custard during baking

Bake for 1 ½ hours, but depending on the oven, it may need less or more time
It is done when a thin knife comes out dry from the center

Hint:

The longer it bakes the firmer it will turn out. Still, I would not recommend baking it longer than two hours

Do not overcook

Remove from oven and let stand in the hot water bath for another 15 minutes while still sealed

Remove from water pot, remove the aluminum foil cover and let it cool off for about ½ hour before refrigerating

Must be refrigerated overnight to ensure it is completely cooled off or it will fall apart when flipping out of the pot

Serving Method:

Run hot water on the outside of the pot for just a minute or so.

Note that it you do this too long then the edges of the custard will not come out smooth.

Alternatively, take a small thin knife and run along the walls, being careful not to cut the custard.

Place a large platter with a rim to hold the caramel on top of pot and flip very quickly, lifting the pot up carefully. This may take some effort but do it very slowly. Flan is delicate.

Scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the caramel and pour it over the Flan. If some of it has hardened, then run it under hot water to liquify it.

Use mint leaves, an orange peel ribbon and Vanilla beams for garnish.

Enjoy!


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