Flan used to be one of those desserts that I thought was way too difficult to make at home, yet, when I would order it at restaurants it was hit and miss. Sometimes you would get a really delicious one that reaffirmed my love of the creamy dessert, other times it would be some gross jiggly thing that was probably made the week before with crappy ingredients. So I decided to take matters in my own hands and do a little recipe hunting. There were zillions of them, some were so ridiculous sounding to me that I just shook my head. So, like I usually do, I combined several to make this one. I’m really happy with it, it’s not that difficult to make, doesn’t take much time, and uses only a handful of ingredients. I’ll be honest, the most difficult part is the caramel part. For those of you that just can’t contain yourself and must stir everything, you will fail. For those of you that think you can wander off because nothing is happening in the beginning and you think you have time to make just one call, you will fail. With that said, I know you can do this!
For the Recipe:
1 3/4 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan add the cream, milk, and vanilla bean. Heat to almost a simmer, but not quite, then remove from heat and let the vanilla bean steep for 30 minutes. To prevent the cream mixture from forming a skin place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of it. While you wait for this you can make the caramel. Before you start this you want to have your ramekins ready and lined up. I use six of my Le Creuset mini cocottes, filled 3/4 full. In a sauté pan heat the sugar and water. Now you do not want to stir this, you can give the pan a little shake to get the water dispersed, but no stirring.
Also, it’s a little slow to go, but once it starts to bubble and turn golden it will be very quick to get to a deep amber. If you walk away you run a high chance of burning the caramel, then you will need to start over. Also, remove it from the heat when it’s about two shades lighter than you want (should be a deep amber), it will continue to darken even after you remove it from the stove. Use extreme caution this stuff is extremely hot and will give you a burn like you cannot believe.
Immediately pour the caramel into the ramekins. Set aside. In a bowl add the eggs and sugar, whisk until well blended. Add the cream mixture to this, whisking just enough to blend but not to much that it starts to foam up. Strain this mixture to filter out any clumps and the vanilla bean.
Evenly distribute between the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a water bath and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the centers are set but still have a little wiggle to them. Let them cool, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.