Did you ever have a “birthday treat” growing up? You know, that one sweet treat your parents would let you pig out on for your special day? I definitely did.
Besides blackberry pie (which I wanted always, every day, forever…), I always asked if our family could go to the local Mexican restaurant for my birthday. The reason I wanted to go was the flan! If it was my birthday, they’d bring out the caramel custard and sing and clap and slap a big ol’ sombrero on my head.
That caramel custardy goodness was what I wanted every year. But it obviously didn’t have to be just a birthday treat. One year, around Christmas time, I stumbled on a recipe for flan and the realization dawned on me. I grew up baking cakes, cookies, and making puddings. Custards and flans were not in my repertoire. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t learn.
My first few years of exploring in the kitchen, I realized a lot of the things I thought were just “going out” treats could actually be made at home. That’s the beauty of learning how to cook well, to me. If you learn to cook well, if you want something, you just make it!
However, it takes a lot of trial and error to get things the way you’re used to having them at restaurants. I will readily admit, that first batch of flan was a disaster. It came out completely liquid and had floating chunks in it and I could not figure out why. Now, years later, I can look back and know I made the mistake of letting egg whites get in the mix and I just didn’t cook it long enough. A bit of straining and letting it cook a bit longer could have saved it.
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 4 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 can (1/3 cup) evaporated milk
- 1 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Place the 6 small jars into the 13x9 in pan and fill it with water to about an inch from the top of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Mix the sugar and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then bring the mixture up to medium heat and, without stirring, let it sit and boil until it is syrupy and turns a dark caramel color.
- Pour the caramel evenly into the bottom of the jars.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the egg yolks, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Once combined, stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the mixture through the strainer or a sieve to get rid of any extra egg pieces.
- Carefully ladle the custard mix evenly into the jars, on top of the caramel.
- Place the pan with the jars into the oven carefully and bake for about 35-45 minutes, until edge is set but a small circle in the center is still a little liquid. Remove the jars from the water and let cool. The flan will continue to set during this time. You can sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top at this time. This is mostly for decoration.
- These can be sealed and chilled and served days later, so they work best as fun gifts for neighbors or friends. These can be eaten from the jar, but they are best if you unmold them from the jar and serve them at room temperature. The best way to do this is by taking a knife and running it around the edges so that the custard comes loose, then turning the jar over onto a plate or bowl.