Spanish Flan or Caramel Flan is a rich, creamy and sweet baked custard dessert covered with the most amazing and flavorful golden caramel sauce. This impressive but easy flan recipe is made with only five ingredients
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The Best Spanish Flan
My grandma used to make homemade flan all the time. I used to call it “jiggly flan cake” because my grandma made it in a very old (vintage), intricate cake mold that was given to her by her grandma.
As a child I thought that flan was super hard to make. I was always impressed with grandma’s baking skills. She was able to accomplish such task with ease and on top of that, she made the best flan recipe ever!
Later in life I realized that just like creme brûlée or any other custard recipe, the process is so simple. Just like me, many people don’t realize how easy it is to make flan at home. Oh and so much cheaper than eating it at a fancy restaurant.
What Is Flan?
Flan, also called crème caramel or caramel custard is a delicate custard dessert baked in a pan filled with caramel sauce. Flan is a very popular dessert in countries like Mexico, Spain, Cuba and other Latin America countries.
Spanish flan is similar to the popular French dessert Creme Brûlée, except for the top, which in the French dessert is made of a thin layer of crisp caramelized sugar while flan, is cooked in golden brown caramel sauce, then is inverted to reveal the silky, smooth custard covered and sitting in a pool of rich caramel sauce.
You only need a handful of simple ingredients to make this caramel flan recipe. For exact amounts, take a look at the printable recipe card below.
- Milk: I use whole milk as it makes the richest custard.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: I usually get Eagle brand. Make sure is not light.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar.
- Eggs: I use large eggs.
- Vanilla Extract: For flavoring!
How To Make Flan
For specific instructions and timing, check the printable recipe card below.
- Plan Ahead: First, it’s important to know that flan should be made a day before you are planning on serving it. The delicate custard needs some time to chill and set. Plan for about 5 hours of cooling/setting time. In my opinion, this is the hardest part of making flan! Waiting to eat it.
- The Right Equipment: Make sure you have a 7-inch round baking pan or you can use a special flan pan or flan mold with lid called “flanera“. I don’t have one of those so I use a regular baking pan and aluminum foil to cover it.
Now let’s talk about how to make Spanish flan!
- Get Ready: Preheat the oven
- Make the Caramel: In a small saucepan stir together sugar and a small amount of water. Heat up the mixture, the sugar will dissolve and look liquidy. Bring to a boil but don’t stir. Simply swirl the pan once in a while until the mixture becomes a light golden brown, just like the color of honey. Sugar can burn very fast so as soon as it’s golden, remove it from the heat!
- Pour the Caramel Into The Baking Pan: Carefully, as the mixture will be hot, pour the caramel into the baking pan swirling the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Work fast as this mixture hardens quickly. If it does, just warm it up over low heat. Set aside. The caramel will harden, that is expected.
- Make the Custard: In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, whole milk and vanilla extract. Don’t whisk too vigorously to prevent too many air bubbles from forming
- Bake In A Bain Marie: Pour the custard into the caramel coated pan and cover it (I use aluminum foil) then place this pan into a larger pan and fill it halfway up with water. Bake. Remove the baking pan from the oven and using a kitchen towel or oven mitt carefully lift the flan pan. Remove the cover (lid or aluminum foil) and allow it to cool for about an hour.
- Chill: When the flan is cooled, cover the pan and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
- Unmold: Slide a paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen up the flan. Invert a serving platter on top of flan pan and turn the pan and platter over. When flan is released, carefully lift off the flan pan. The caramel should be at the bottom of the platter.
What Is A Bain Marie
A Bain Marie, pronounced “bane mah-Ree” is a fancy culinary term that means hot water bath. The purpose of this method, is to create a moist and humid environment to cook delicate foods with gentle and uniform heat.
To make a bain marie, all you need is hot water, a large pan that will hold inside ramekins or a smaller pan snugly but comfortably.
How Much Water Should I Add To A Bain Marie?
The water in a hot water bath or bain marie should only come halfway the sides of the smaller dish. Not all the way up!
What Does Flan Taste Like?
Flan tastes like a delicate, sweet and light vanilla custard topped with a somewhat clear – but golden, deeply flavored, toasted sugar caramel. Not too eggy, flan is very similar in flavor to French creme brûlée.
What’s Spanish Flan Made Of?
This sweet custard dessert is made with eggs, milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract (or vanilla bean). The sweet golden caramel is made with granulated sugar and water.
Can You Overcook Caramel Flan?
Yes, you can overcook. Overcooked flan gets rubbery and overly firm. You shouldn’t have any issues if you follow the flan recipe below.
When removing the flan from the oven, it should still be jiggly. Your dessert flan will set as it cools.
How To Store Homemade Flan?
Store your leftover sweet custard dessert in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Easy Flan Recipe Tips
- Don’t stir the caramel while it cooks. Simply swirl the pan as needed.
- When making caramel, remove the saucepan from the stove as soon as the caramel turns a golden – honey color. caramel overcooks quickly. Overcooked caramel tastes like burnt sugar.
- When mixing the custard ingredients, don’t ovemix to prevent too many bubbles from forming.
- Always use the bain marie method when baking flan. Flan custard needs to be baked with gentle heat so it turns out creamy, silky and smooth.
- Make sure to cool the flan and allow it to rest before unmolding.
Take A Look At These Other Dessert Recipes:
Thursday #SummerGamesWeek Recipes
- Vegetable Tempura representing Japan by House of Nash Eats
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- Hungarian Chocolate Torte representing Hungary by That Recipe
- Lutenitsa representing Bulgaria by Magical Ingredients
- Crème Brûlée representing France by The Spiffy Cookie
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Easy Spanish Caramel Flan
- It’s best to make this recipe one day before you are planning on serving it as the flan needs time to cool and set (about 5 hours minimum).
- Make sure you have a 7-inch round pan ready or a flan mold with lid aka flanera.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make the Caramel:
- In a small heavy saucepan stir together the sugar and 1/4 cup water. The sugar will look moist. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until the mixture begins to turn golden. Gently swirling the pan and continue to cook until sugar is a golden brown like the color of honey. Don’t allow it to get too dark as sugar can quickly burn. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the desired color is achieved.1 cup granulated sugar
- Carefully pour the caramel into the round pan (or flan pan) and gently swirl the pan so the caramel coats the bottom evenly. This should be done quickly as the caramel can harden pretty fast. If the caramel hardens before you have the chance to coat the bottom of the pan, warm up the pan over low heat.
- Set aside and allow the caramel to cool and harden.
Make the Custard:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, whole milk and vanilla extract. Don’t whisk too vigorously to prevent too many air bubbles from forming4 large eggs, 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, 1 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Create a Bain Marie:
- Pour the custard into the caramel coated pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil or with the lid if using a flan pan. Place the custard/caramel pan into a larger baking pan and pour enough warm water to reach about halfway up the pan. This creates a bain-Marie or water bath that will help cook the custard gently.
- Carefully place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove the baking pan from the oven and using a kitchen towel or oven mitt carefully lift the flan pan. Remove the aluminum foil or lid and allow to cool at room temperature. At this point the flan will be a bit jiggly but will continue to set with the remaining heat.
- After the flan is cool, cover the pan and refrigerate for 4 hour or overnight.
- To unmold, slide a paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen up the flan. Invert a serving platter on top of flan pan and turn the pan and platter over. When flan is released, carefully lift off the flan pan. The caramel should be at the bottom of the platter.