If there’s a dessert that would define my childhood, it would be Flan. In the Dominican Republic, Flan is a dessert that’s always on the table for special occasions. It’s the cherry on top at the end of a dinner party and the sweetest part of a family lunch, where it’s usually paired with an espresso. Flan reminds me of growing up with a grandma who would make it for me from time to time. It also reminds me of my Mother, who although doesn’t love cooking or baking (she loves cleaning, go figure) would make it occasionally. Let’s be honest, don’t things just taste better when they come from our moms?
It’s said that food has such an impact on us because of the memories they carry, and I couldn’t agree more. Upon having a spoonful of flan, I’m 8 years old again, waiting patiently for Sunday lunch to be over so I can have a piece of vanilla speckled custard with a latte. Even then I think I knew what my priorities were.
Just like the famous Tres Leches Cake, Flan is done done with just a few ingredients. Three different kinds of milk to make it into the creamy custard; evaporated, condensed and regular milk. Regular milk can also be substituted for coconut milk, giving this simple dessert a tropical flavour that has the ability to bring memories of home, family and happiness. The rest of the ingredients can be easily be found in your pantry and fridge.
Its simplicity makes it easy to put together, I happily made it after landing from an 11 hour flight from Athens to Toronto without a second thought. Maybe I was missing my birth country, my parents, or the ocean but I had the biggest craving for Coconut Flan. In the few minutes that it took to make my favourite dessert, I found myself feeling closer to home. Even better, seeing my girls smile while they had a piece.
Not only is Flan popular in Dominican Republic, but its made all over latin America and Spain. Every Latin country gives it a different spin. In Argentina, a country dear to my heart, Flan gets served with spoonfuls of Dulce de Leche and dollops of whipped cream, just the way that Gaby loves it. In Mexico it gets served with Cajeta, their own take on Dulce de leche, made with goat’s milk. Colombia tops their flan with Arequipe, and Peru with Manjar blanco.
Tips for making Flan
- Have your ingredients at room temperature.
- Use high quality Pure Vanilla extract. Flan only calls for a few ingredients, and vanilla might be the most important of them all.
- Add a dash of Rum to the batter.
- Keep the frying pan where the sugar will be melted to make the caramel, at a very low temperature, that way it will melt gradually and won’t burn. You want the caramel to turn a light amber colour.
- Before serving the Flan, make sure to place the baking dish on a baking sheet with hot water. This will make sure once you turn it onto a plate, the flan will easily slide out without sticking to the baking dish.
1 cup sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 can Coconut Milk, full fat
- 1 can Evaporated milk
- 1 can Condensed milk
- 1 tbsp Pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp Rum
- Heat oven to 325 F
- Pour 1 cup of sugar in a frying pan over medium heat. Constantly stir the sugar with a wooden spoon while it heats, until the sugar browns and turns into caramel. It should have a golden brown colour to it.
- Immediately pour the caramel into an 8 inch round baking dish. Tilting the dish as you pour so that the caramel coats the bottom and sides of the baking dish.Work quickly as the caramel will cool and harden.
- In an electric mixer or with a whisk, blend the eggs together. Add the 3 milks, vanilla and rum.
- Pour the custard mixture into the caramel lined baking dish.
- Place the baking dish in a large glass, ceramic or metal baking pan. Pour hot water in the baking pan, around the baking dish to a depth of about 2 inches.
- Bake the flan for 50 minutes in the water bath. Check in with a knife inserted in the middle of the flan; if the knife comes out clean, the flan is ready.
- Remove the large baking dish from the oven and carefully lift the baking dish out of the water bath. Place the baking dish on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
- Place the baking dish in a baking sheet, pour hot water into the sheet and let the baking dish stand for 3 minutes.
- To serve invert the flan onto a plate, allowing the flan to drop out and the caramel sauce to flow over the custard. Enjoy a slice with a tablespoon of Dulce de leche and whipped cream.