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Monday, September 10, 2012

The BEST Flan ever. Period.

The BEST Flan ever.
This is officially my 1000th post.  Ho. Lee. Cow.  Looking back, it seems that these past 3 years and 7 or 8 months has just flown by.  Now, not every single post contained a recipe, but I think it's safe to say that at least 95% of them did.  And of those posts, not a single recipe was repeated.  Shite!

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with repeating recipes...the good ones are worth's just that there are SO many things out there that I want to make.  SO many.  TOO many.  And the list just keeps growing.  So that is what keeps me from repeating recipes.

That's not to say that we never eat the same thing twice at home.  Heck, we eat a lot of the same things on a monthly (or even weekly) basis.  We have our favorites.  The majority of the things that happen in my kitchen never even make it to the blog.  Even if I post every day for the whole month on average, that's only 30-ish posts per month.  And we eat 3 meals a day plus snacks and breads and drinks and dishes to take to friends and family.  You get my drift.
The BEST Flan ever.
So while I will never stop trying new recipes and as long as I have the passion and the drive, I will keep sharing them here, I've decided that it's time to start looking back to my first year or so of blogging and redoing some of the oldies but goodies.  The things I make so often (or at least often enough) that I think they deserve another chance at the spotlight.  Especially since my photos (while there will always be room for improvement) are light-years better than they were when I first started.  Plus, after so many years of making a certain dish or recipe, new techniques and methods start to creep in and become habit, so while most ingredient lists probably haven't changed drastically, the recipe wording itself probably has.  As is the case with this flan.  "My" flan.  And in my opinion, THE BEST FLAN IN THE WORLD.  You can see my original post here, but I wouldn't advise it.  It makes me cringe a little.

I know it's a pretty brazen claim to call something "the best".  And really, the best to me may not be the best to you.  But hey, it's my blog and my 1000th post.  And I think it's the best flan in the world.  So there.  Although this has been confirmed by even those who don't feel an obligation to agree with me.  Just so you know that I'm not blowin' smoke.

Not only is this flan the creamiest and most delicious one you'll ever taste - it's also incredibly easy to make!
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The BEST Flan ever.
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes + overnight in fridge
Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert vegetarian nut-free soy-free eggs milk Christmas Easter pudding Mexican

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325° F. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Get out an 8 or 9-inch pie tin (or oddly enough, a disposable cake pan of the same size works beautifully) and set it inside a roasting pan.

Place sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar turns into a liquidy syrup, swirling it around every once in a while. Remove from heat just before the syrup turns the color of maple syrup. Pour into the bottom of the cake pan and tilt the pan back and forth so that the caramely syrup coats the bottom of the pan; tilt it so it goes up the sides, as well. It will fall back down into the bottom, but that's okay.

Put both milks, the eggs, and the vanilla into the jar of a blender and give it a quick blend, just until everything is incorporated. Pour slowly into the pan with the caramel. The caramel will have begun to "set" by now, but will so even more when this mixture hits it.

Carefully set the roasting pan (with the cake pan in it) into the oven and pour the boiling water all around it. The water should reach at least halfway up the pan, but no further than ¾ of the way up. Do this as quickly as possible and shut the oven door so as to not lower the oven temperature very much.

Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the flan is just set. When you touch it lightly in the center, it will still seem very jiggly and maybe stick slightly to your finger, but it should not be at all liquidy. You may be tempted to over-cook the flan, but please don't. Over-cooking (as well as no water bath) is what causes that "holey" look throughout the flan and gives it an overly eggy taste and bad texture. Cooking this way keeps it creamy and perfect. Once you've baked one or two (and you will want to make them often), you'll get the feel of when it is done.

Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven. You can let the pan sit inside the water bath for 5 or 10 minutes, but I wouldn't go any longer. Lift the pan out (use some oven mitts or towels) and set it on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, but up to overnight or a bit longer.

When you're ready to serve, run a thin-bladed knife around the outside edges to release from pan. You should be able to move the pan in a back-and-forth motion (like turning the wheel of a car...if the wheel was laying down horizontally) and the flan will easily move back and forth. Invert a serving plate (with a lip to stop the caramel from flowing off) onto the pan. All in one swift motion, with one hand holding the bottom of the plate and the other holding the bottom of the pan, flip everything over so that the plate is now on the bottom. You should hear the flan plop onto the plate. Lift the pan off and allow the caramel syrup to fall down onto the top of the flan. There will be some still stuck to the pan. Use a rubber scraper to scrape some off, but you don't have to get it all.

Slice and enjoy!

To easily clean the pan and the crystallized caramel that remains, just let hot water run over it to melt the sugar. It's easy as cake from there.

If you are traveling with a flan, I recommend NOT turning it out of the pan until you arrive at your destination. Otherwise, you will have a big, caramel-syrupy mess. I speak from experience.

Also, this may sound crazy, but my preferred pan to use when making this (especially for travel) is an 8½"x2" disposable foil pan. If I'm giving it away or taking it away, I use the ones with the little "disk"-style lids that can be clamped on around the edges. This keeps caramel sauce from splashing out everywhere. The first time I used one, I was hesitant because there are ridges of sort on the bottoms, and I didn't want indentations in my flan. However, these indentations end up not even showing through because of the thin layer of hardened caramel that stays in the pan.

You could make individual portions using small baking dishes or ramekins, if you like. Simply divide both the caramel syrup and the flan mixture itself evenly among the dishes set inside a roasting pan and pour the water around those. How many it makes will depend on the size of the ramekins you use (the mixture itself, once blended, yields ~28 floz.).

(Oh, and p.s...believe it or not, the recipe that I originally adapted this from so many years ago was from my girl Nigella Lawson - the queen of Mexican cuisine.  Oh, wait.  She's actually not the queen of Mexican cuisine?  I don't care.  It's still the best. Period.)
The BEST Flan ever.
Watch for more recipe revisits in the future. I have so many more that I want to share again with both those of you who've been hangin' around here since the beginning, as well as people who never even saw the first version!