The Foolproof Flan

Throughout its existence Flan has been through many variations from savory as a side dish to fish to an impossible flan with chocolate cake batter. This recipe will get you closest to the one I and many Mexican American kids grew up with. The one that our (1st generation Latinos) moms and aunties made the day before Thanksgiving when we tried to celebrate it. Flan was more rare to me than shooting stars, it was a rarity and if you like it may be better than cake.

First some facts:
Originated in Rome after they domesticated chickens and mass production of eggs many Romans created delicious dishes including many eggs like flan. The origin of the name derives from the German word Flado which means flat, the shape of Flan after baked. The Flan reached Spain and when the Spanish reached the Yucatan peninsula it became a prominently Latin American dish. Many Latin countries put their own spin on it like coconuts, coffee and chocolate to use ingredients around them. An interesting thing about Flan is that like most cheesecakes you need to bake them in a water bath or as my mother first named it for me a “bano Maria” which is the exact term baking experts use but in english it is “bain Marie” for a water bath. The bain marie is also said to be the secret for the perfect no crack cheesecake and now, flan.

Before you attempt this recipe here are things not to do: do not use heavy cream instead of cream cheese, ( just get the cream cheese) it makes the flan creamier, do not use utensils to make the caramel more specifically in the beginning the sugar will crystalize on your utensil and when you put it again in the pot it will start a chain and harden your caramel and you have to start again. Do not put more than 6 eggs in your flan, I know some recipes say 9 or 8 eggs but its flan is not an omelet. I assure you your flan should come out of the oven hard, not liquid. That does not mean flip it right away, just do not use more eggs.

Step One Gather Ingredients: Utensils:
5 eggs One pot/ pan for caramel
1 bar of cheese cream blender or whisk and mixing bowl
1 can of condensed cream bowl/ oven mold
1 cup of milk water bath, roasting pan bigger than the oven mold
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of sugar

Step Two Prepare:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Step Three Caramel:
Use no utensils.
Caramelize sugar in hot over the stove, place sugar in a small pot or pan When your sugar starts to bubble, slightly pick up the pot or pan by the handle and move the pot in small circular motions to even out the caramel. Turn off the stove when caramel looks closest to light brown/hazel color. Now spill caramel over to the oven mold you will use for flan , this will become the smooth top of your flan.
Step Four Flan:
Then you place your wets, the 5 eggs raw, can of condensed milk, cup of milk, and teaspoon of vanilla extract in a mixing bowl or a blender. Now you can whisk those ingredients in the bowl or blend them until thick and smooth.
Now you can pour that mixture on top of that caramelized sugar in your oven mold.
Step FIve Water Bath:
After this you can get your water bath together, before you just put the flan in the oven without it the flan would not be the same.
It’s a gamble not to use it, the water bath keeps the oven moist and helps moderate heat so the edges do not over cook. ‘
Use an oven pan bigger than the pan with the flan mixture and place the Flan mixture inside now fill with warm water depending on the depth. Half an inch to 2 inches is enough.
Step SIx Bake:
Place in the oven together.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Step Seven Cooling:
Turn off the oven and take out both together, let it fully cool at room temperature and then place into the fridge for as long as you want.
Step Eight Serving:
Flip flan onto a serving plate, cut and enjoy.

Renata Lopez

Emma Willard School – DMSF Class of 2026

  1. Mom (born in Chicago) who got the recipe from my Aunt who immigrated to Chicago from Mexico in the 1990’s

Image by ALFONSO CHARLES from Pixabay