For those who tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking, most do it not only for the goodies they create, but because they honestly see baking as something fun to do. The best recipes however, are those that are not only fun to create, but are visually stunning and delicious. If you are ready to create a dish that covers all of these bases, there is nothing like a simple caramel flan.
The Perfect Way to Finish a Meal
Although this relatively easy to make egg custard dessert tends to look a bit boring when still in the dish, there is nothing quite like the look on everyone’s face when you do the “big reveal.” There is a very definite satisfaction that comes with the gentle plop when you first turn the baking dish over to release your flan onto the serving plate. Perhaps this is due to the pool of burnished caramel syrup that forms around your flan as it settles on the plate.
This simple act is often seen as the perfect way to finish a meal with a silky smooth dessert that is suitable for practically any meal. As an added bonus, the flavor of your flan will only improve if you allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Many Great Variations
It is hard to believe that such a simple dessert can have so many variations, and even harder to believe that each of them claims to be the “Original Flan”, yet such is the case. However, many tend to favor the Latin American version called “Dulce du Leche” or caramelized milk as the authentic version of this dish. Despite this, the dish is much easier to make using a single can of sweetened condensed milk.
To make the caramel syrup, you can use a little light corn syrup to help stop the formation of sugar crystals while you are melting the sugar in boiling water. Bear in mind this does not mean using high fructose corn syrup, it means using clear corn syrup such as Karo brand found in any grocery store.
Tracking the Temperature
One of the biggest problems faced by those who make flans is the formation of tiny bubbles in the surface. Turns out this is the result of baking your flan too quickly, this can easily be solved by lowering the oven temperature down to 325 degrees, and using hot water in the bath instead of boiling water. You should also place a layer of paper towels in the bottom of the pan to keep the ramekins from sliding around during cooking.
There are dozens of flan recipes available to choose from, remember to make the caramel syrup first and let it cool before you make the individual flans. This will ensure it has a chance to harden properly so that it does not continue to cook the flans. If you want a truly silky smooth flan, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixture through before placing it in the ramekins.
You should bake the flans just until the centers look cooked before removing them to finish cooking and cooling on a wire rack. Cover in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or for up to a full 48 hours. When the time comes to serve, simply run a butter knife around the edge, place the serving plate on the top of the ramekin and flip over. Add a little extra flair by using your favorite fruit to garnish the dish and watch your guests’ eyes light up.