For the caramel: (If used, see Note)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
For the Custard
2 cans (15 oz. each) of sweetened condensed milk
3 cups of whole milk or evaporated milk (either one – I used evaporated)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/8 teaspoon of salt
For the caramel
Dissolve ingredients in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook and swirl instead of stirring
(if you get tired of that, go ahead and stir – I did) until sugar caramelizes, about
Pour caramel into a 9-inch cake pan (or individual ovenproof custard dishes), swirling
slowly to cover the bottom evenly. It will immediately harden. Set aside.
Note: If you want to skip the caramelized sugar step, simply pour a purchased caramel
sauce or real maple syrup over the top of each chilled serving.
For the custard:
Put oven rack at lower third of the oven, heat to 350 degrees. Have a teakettle
of hot water prepared to pour around the custard container(s).
Beat eggs well; add the milks slowly. Beat in vanilla and salt until well combined.
Strain through a fine sieve into the caramel pan, cover pan or custard dishes with
foil. (Note: I didn’t bother to strain the mixture, and it was very smooth.)
Place pan or custard dishes into a larger baking pan; place in lower oven rack.
Pour boiling water into the larger pan, letting the water come about 1 inch up the
Bake until flan is set, about two hours (or less if using individual custard cups).
Carefully remove from water bath.
When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the flan, unmold onto a plate
or serving platter, watch that the caramel doesn’t run off the edge.
A maker of flan asked on the Internet: “How do you get the bit of hard caramel out of the dish after unmolding?” Easy: just let it sit with cold water in it; it’ll dissolve.
A flan is a egg-rich custard, smooth as satin, not too sweet, served cold with its
own (or applied later) sauce of caramelized sugar. It is a favorite in Mexico, Spain,
and other Latin countries.
The container (9-inch cake pan or 9-inch pie plate, or as many smaller ramekins as
it takes for the mixture) in which it is baked needs to be placed in a larger ovenproof
container, and hot water poured around it to keep it from baking too fast, sort
of like a “double-boiler,” only in the oven.
When you chose the container to cook the flan in, be sure you have a larger container
to set it in.