Every Time I Make This Holiday Dessert, Someone Asks for the Recipe

Every Time I Make This Holiday Dessert, Someone Asks for the Recipe

Every Time I Make This Holiday Dessert, Someone Asks for the Recipe

My parents are grocers, so time away from school or sports meant doing chores at their store. My routine included negotiating a treat after reaching the end of my task list, and I often picked flan from the dairy case.

In Paraguay, where we lived, flan is sold ready-to-eat next to the yogurt. It’s also packaged like yogurt, with the caramel on the bottom and the jiggly custard on top. I could eat half a dozen cups at once if my mom would let me.

It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve had this flan. Since moving to the U.S. where ready-to-eat flan is hard to find, I’ve been making it at home for special occasions (my stomach can’t handle dairy the way it used to).

Though it looks hard to make, flan is easy to pull off and most of the time is patiently waiting for the custard to set in the oven and chill in the fridge. Make it a day or two ahead, and unmold it in front of your family and friends. I promise everyone’s going to be impressed. I’ve made flan for New Year’s Eve for many years and someone always asks me for the recipe. 

I’ve included tips for making the caramel sauce and custard in the recipe below (bolded if important to pay close attention to). If you run into trouble or have questions, leave me a comment below! 

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe


What Is Flan?

Flan is a sweet custard topped with a caramel sauce. It’s popular in countries with Spanish influence, like Mexico, parts of Central and South America, and the Philippines, each with their version.

The custard is made with eggs and dairy—always sweetened condensed milk, and depending on the version, evaporated milk, whole milk, heavy cream, or even coconut milk. My recipe only calls for heavy cream, for a creamier custard that doesn’t taste too milky.

The caramel sauce is just melted sugar—I add a little water to help dissolve the sugar before cooking it. Once it becomes a dark amber, I swirl it onto the bottom of a cake pan and pour the custard over it. The flan is slowly baked in a water bath to prevent it from curdling. Then it chills in the fridge—flan should be served cold—until fully set.

The last step always induces oohs and aahs so do this in front of your family and friends: Flip the flan onto a serving plate. You’ll get a mirror-glazed caramel top that’s hard not to be impressed by.

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe