This gloriously inviting and heavenly custard flan is always a huge hit in my family. Oh yes, this absolutely ruins anyone’s diet, hence I don’t make it that quite often. Everyone in the house seems to be in some sort of a diet these days, and I don’t want to distract them from their goals. I was planning to make this for Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve though, but they had been bugging me for quite some time now to make this for them. Even volunteering to buy the ingredients (which was rare, I’ll have you know!). I succumbed to their pestering and ended up making this last weekend.
It had been a while since I last made this, so I was bit apprehensive on how this would turn out. Baking time is what I’m most nervous about this dessert. I think it’s critical you get that right. Do not underbake, nor overbake it. The baking time varies on each containers I used. Sometimes, I would use a 9 x 13 inch pan, or even a bundt pan, or even smaller round/oval pans. Hence, I never keep track of the baking duration. I would just use often check on them and see if they have that perfect jiggle at the center. It had taken many tries before I could determine that though. There was one time when I had taken it out still jiggly and had thought it would set once it had cooled. But unfortunately, it didn’t. I had underbaked it. Then there was another time when I had overbaked it and it wasn’t as creamy and luscious as I had wanted it to be and even had that “cake-y” texture to it. So, yes, with experience, you’ll know when they’re perfectly baked, and this is also preferential too, I guess. I prefer mine when the edges are set, and only the center is jiggly. I believe some people use thermometer to check on the done-ness of the flan, but I’ve never really tried it myself.
Some recipes require the use of only egg yolks. I tried that before but I find that specific flan way too rich and heavy for an already decadent dessert. Not to mention, I think the egg whites are needed to help set the flan. For this recipe, however, I used the combination of both eggs and egg yolks only. I find the combination pretty good. You can certainly adjust them to your liking, but I still highly suggest using at least 2 egg whites. Growing up, though, my mom just used whole eggs when making flan, not bothering with separating them. I kind of miss eating her version as well. It’s much firmer, lighter in color, and not as luscious and decadent, but it was still very good. Instead of baking, she cooked it through steaming which I had initially thought was the only way to cook this. Until, of course, internet was introduced.
- 1 13 oz condensed milk
- 1 8 oz cream cheese, softened or melted
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 cups heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 cup sugar (for the caramel)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
First things first, make a caramel. I used 3 6-inch round pans and added sugar enough to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1 cup for all 3 of them. The amount of sugar depends on the pan you’re using, just make sure the bottom is fully covered.
Add a splash of water, about 2 tablespoons or so, in the pan with the sugar. The water helps to lessen the sweetness of the caramel. I know some prefer to omit water completely, but it depends on you. I don’t like mine way too sweet, so I added water on mine. Stir the water and sugar. Place the pan on the stovetop and using medium-heat, let it boil until it turns golden brown.
If you’re using glass pans like Pyrex, don’t put them directly on stovetop. They will break. Ask me how I know about this? Haha… I suggest making the caramel in a saucepan then pour onto the glass pans.
Make sure to keep an eye on it. It browns very fast. Once you see some browning, stir the caramel once in a while. Once you see this perfect caramel golden brown color, turn off the heat, and let it cool. Be careful when handling this. They’re very hot.
As the caramel cools, it will harden and you may hear some cracking sounds. It’s quite normal. You’ll hear more cracking once the custard is poured in. While it cools, do the custard flan mixture.
As for the custard, this first step is completely optional. I prefer to melt the cream cheese with about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream over a pan of simmering water. The other option, if you want to skip this part, is to use a blender and blend the cream cheese until smooth and well, creamy.
Here’s the melted creamy and thick cream cheese.
Add condensed milk to melted/ blended cream cheese.
Pour in 2 cups of heavy cream to the mixture.
Then throw in your eggs and blend everything. You can do this in a regular blender, but here, I’m using an immersion blender. I find blending rather than whisking is more appropriate for flans. My mom used a handheld whisk before to make flans. Whisking, however, caused bubbles and it’s very hard to remove them. Blending, on the other hand, is perfect way to mix everything. It causes lesser bubbles, resulting to much creamier custard flans.
See how there aren’t a lot of bubbles except for the ones at the sides of the bowl? You can remove these by simply pricking them with a toothpick.
Use a mesh strainer to pour the custard mixture onto the pans. This helps remove any extra bubbles and lumps, if there are any. There are usually lumps in mine.
Did I just say lumps in my custard mixture? Yes, you see it now.
Divide the custard as equally as possible into the 3 pans.
Cover the pans with foil and place them on a roasting pan. Add hot tap water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway of the custard pans.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour or so. I would check if they’re done after 40 or 45 minutes and gauge from there how long it still needs to baked. What we’re looking for here is when the center still slightly jiggles, but the sides are set.
After baking, remove the foil, and take the custard pans out of the roasting pan, and let it cool for about an hour or so in room temperature. After that, put the foil back on and place these custards in the fridge and let it cool there completely for a minimum of 2 hours. The center shouldn’t be jiggly anymore after this.
Once cooled and set in the fridge, the flan is now ready to be plated. Now, there are a couple of techniques you can use here. One, dip the bottom of the custard flan pan into a hot water. This loosens the caramel, and helps make it easier to release the flan. Run a knife through the edge of the flan. Then flip it onto your plate. The other one is simply running a knife through the edge of the flan, flip it over onto the plate, then give it a huge smack until it’s released. This may take few smacks depending on how long the custard flan sat in the fridge. You’ll hear it once the flan dropped to the plate.
And there you go! Please be warned that this dessert is rich and scrumptious and delicious and all things good. Go easy on consuming them, difficult as it may be. I would know that, won’t I? I had to have the first bite, of course! I had to restrain myself not to eat the whole pan myself! Lol!!