Italian Flan or Creme Caramel as its popularly known in England, is a beautiful dessert that is best when made a day ahead. It may be difficult and you may have to guard the refrigerator for the night, but it definitely makes a difference. The recipe below asks is for making it in a tin, but I prefer making them in individual ramekins. Not only does that help with portion control but they look so much special when served individually, and they set faster.
Serves 8 to 10
This recipe should be made at least one day before serving. An 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan is recommended for this recipe but I have used individual ramekins. They set much faster but by resting them overnight in the fridge, they are beautifully chilled when serving. Serve the flan on a platter with a raised rim to contain the liquid caramel.
- 2/3 cup or 130gm sugar
- 2 large eggs plus 5 yolks
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Stir together sugar and 1/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan until sugar is completely dissolved. Boil on medium-high heat, 3 – 5 minutes, and cook, without stirring, until mixture begins to turn golden, another 1 – 2 minutes. Gently swirling the pan (NOT STIRRING) continue to cook until sugar looks caramelised (a bit like peanut butter colour), 1 – 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and swirl pan until sugar is reddish-amber and fragrant, 15 – 20 seconds. Carefully swirl in 2 tablespoons boiling water (I used kettle) until incorporated; mixture will bubble and steam. Pour caramel into 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and set it aside. If using ramekins, divide the caramel into individual ramekins; around 2-3 tbsp each but you have to eyeball it.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 145C. Line the bottom of a large baking pan with a dish-towel, folding the towel to fit smoothly and set aside. The towel will help keep the ramekins in place without moving around in the baking pan. Bring 8 cups of water to boil.
- Whisk the eggs and yolks in a large bowl until combined – do not over-whisk or aerate, as you don’t want bubbles. Add sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, vanilla, and salt and whisk until incorporated – not whisking or aerating, as this will help give you the smooth texture. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer (I used tea strainer) into the prepared loaf pan or the little ramekins. This is worth extra effort here to get the texture perfect.
- Cover the ramekins tightly with aluminium foil and put them on the towel in the baking pan. Put the baking pan in the oven and carefully pour all of the boiling water into it (NOT the ramekins, but around it).
- Bake until the center of custard jiggles slightly when shaken – around 45 mins for ramekins to 1hr 15-1hr 30 for the loaf pan. Remove the foil and let the custard rest in the water bath until they have cooled to room temperature – around 2 hours.
- Remove the ramekins from the water bath and wrap the top with cling film. Chill in the fridge overnight or at least 5-6 hours before serving. It can be made upto 4 days in advance.
- To serve – slide a small paring knife carefully around the edges. Take your serving plate and put it inverted onto the ramekin, and then turn them over so the ramekin empties into the serving dish. It will slide right out and using a rubber spatula scrape the extra caramel from the ramekin onto the custard.
It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients and it is not difficult to put together, once you get used to the technique. Please ask if you have any questions.