Have you ever tried Puerto Rican flan? This is a delicious dessert, abundant in custard and caramel, which, in my opinion, every dessert should include. Flan is incredibly popular around Latin America, coming in as many different variations as there are people!
If you love custard, and you love caramel, then not only can we be good friends, but I have an incredible recipe for Puerto Rican flan for you to try and to challenge yourself in the kitchen as flan requires delicate baking techniques. So, if you’re up for trying something new, keep reading to find out how to make Puerto Rican flan!
WHAT IS FLAN?
Flan is an egg-based creamy dessert, essentially a set custard baked in the oven, which is covered in a pool of rich caramel, and nearly every country has a national version! You will have probably heard of France’s crème caramel which is very similar to Puerto Rican flan only it is made with slightly different ingredients.
Puerto Rican flan and Mexican flan are even more alike, although some recipes include cream cheese, making a baked crustless cheesecake.
My Puerto Rican flan recipe includes eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla and sugar – and is unbelievably easy to prepare. Once all the ingredients are mixed together, the flan custard is baked, however, it is first put in a bain-marie – a water bath, or simply a high-sided tray of water – which prevents the eggs from over-cooking and keeps the custard soft and silky smooth.
Finally, the flan is covered in rich dark caramel. However, be careful as liquid caramel will not only burn you (!) but quickly darken until tasting bitter and horrible. I will guide you through the caramel-making process, though, don’t worry.
HOW DO I CARAMELIZE SUGAR FOR FLAN?
Making caramel can even make professional chefs nervous! Caramel has a mind of it own and can burn, crystalize or harden at any time.
However, you just need to approach that caramel with confidence. If you follow my guidelines you should be fine:
1. Choose a pan without a non-stick base. You need to be able to see the color of the caramel as it darkens, and unfortunately, non-stick does not help us there.
2. Pour your sugar and water into the pan, set it over medium-low heat, and ensure all the sugar is covered by the water. You can stir gently until all the sugar is dissolved, but don’t let it splash the sides of the pan.
3. Now that all the sugar is dissolved – leave it alone! The more we stir, the more likely the caramel will decide to play dirty and crystalize.
4. The liquid will simmer and slowly the center will darken. Watch it carefully. The rest of the caramel will deepen in color, and feel free to swirl your pan to make sure all the caramel is an even shade. Be careful as you don’t want any of this molten sugar, which might as well be lava, on your skin!
5. Once it reaches a lovely shade of deep gold, pour the caramel into your flan mold. This will stop the caramel from cooking.
Don’t be too cautious and pour out the caramel when it’s a wishy-washy light brown color as it won’t have much flavor.
On the other hand, don’t take it too far to the color of mahogany as it will be really bitter!
It takes practice, but keep the temperature low and make sure you watch it carefully.
HELP! MY HOMEMADE CARAMEL WENT WRONG!
Caramel can go wrong in different ways:
1. It can crystalize, turn cloudy and harden – this can happen in the smallest of incidences! One grain of undissolved sugar can ruin a pan of smooth caramel. This can be prevented by adding a small splash of lemon juice or a pinch of cream of tartar, or you can wet the edges of your pan with a pastry brush to catch any stray sugar crystals.
2. It can burn – We’ve all been there! Either the heat was too high, you took your eyes off the pan at the wrong moment, or you pushed it too far (I’ve definitely done that before!) Unfortunately, all you can do is start again.
HOW LONG DO I BAKE THE FLAN?
So, your caramel is a lovely deep amber, ready and waiting, now you just need to whip up the Puerto Rican flan ingredients!
Once everything is blended together, pour it into the flan mold through a sieve to catch any lumps of egg white. Tap the pan on the surface to break any air bubbles.
Now, carefully lower the flan into a large high-sided tray. Fill it with boiling water to around halfway up the side of the flan mold. Carefully slide it into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, although check after 30 to make sure the eggs aren’t cooking too quickly. Check if it’s done by inserting a sharp knife. If it comes out clean, it is ready.
Once cool, leave in the fridge to set for 3 hours – or ideally overnight – then run a knife around the inside of the mold and turn it upside down. Out it will slide, covered in delicious caramel sauce!
Puerto Rican flan is a smooth creamy indulgent dessert, which is easy and quick to make once you feel confident with the skills! Follow my guide and you will turn out a beautiful creamy flan covered in a silky caramel sauce!
MORE DESSERT RECIPES LIKE THIS
PUERTO RICAN FLAN
FOR THE CARAMEL
- ¼ cup Water
- ¾ cup Sugar
FOR THE FLAN
- 5 Eggs
- 1 can Condensed milk
- 1 can Evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 355°F/ 180°C.
- To make the caramel, place a pan (without a non-stick base) over medium-low heat with the water and sugar. Keep an eye on it for about 5 to 7 minutes as the sugar melts and slowly turns light brown. Do not stir it as it cooks as it could crystalize. Swirl the pan gently and don't let it burn!
- Pour the caramel into your flan mold and set it aside.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla. Blend until the ingredients are well mixed and the mixture is creamy.
- Pour this mixture into flan mold on top of the caramel, then give it a few small taps on the table, so that the mixture is balanced without any air bubbles.
- Put the mold inside a high-sided baking tray, and fill the tray with boiling water from the kettle until it reaches halfway up the flan mold. Carefully put the tray inside the oven and bake for 45 minutes, checking after 30. To see if it’s done, insert a sharp knife – if it comes out clean, it’s ready.
- Leave it to cool at room temperature for about 45 minutes and then put it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or ideally overnight.
- When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of the mold, tip it upside down on a plate and remove the mold. The flan will slide out, covered in caramel. Serve it cold with cream, berries and mint if you like.