Tuesdays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Flan

March 25, 2008 at 2:10 am | Posted in groups, pudding/mousse, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 40 Comments

caramel-topped flan

I may be out of town right now, but I wasn’t about to miss out on my chance to choose the recipe for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie meet-up– at the rate the group is growing, I probably won’t get another pick!  I decided to venture into the “spoon desserts” section near the back of the book, and go with Dorie’s Caramel-Topped Flan.

Flan is simple to prepare…it’s a no-fuss custard that gets baked in a waterbath.  What makes it really special is the gorgeous amber-glass layer of caramel that adheres to the custard when you turn it out of the pan.  I love the combination of the cold wiggly custard and the bittersweet caramel.

I scaled back the recipe and made a couple of individual flans in ramekins, rather than one large one.  I also did the “playing around” variation, using coconut milk instead of heavy cream.  I put a little twist on it by infusing the milks with lime zest and using rum instead of vanilla extract.

The recipe is, of course, in  Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, but I also include it below.  Don’t forget to check out Tuesdays with Dorie to visit all of this week’s posts.

Caramel-Topped Flan makes one 8″x2″ flan
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Note: You can make individual servings by using six 6-oz or seven or eight 4-oz ramekins or containers instead of the larger cake pan.

For the caramel:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the flan:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Getting ready:
-Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a roasting pan or 9″x13″ baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off heat.

-Put a metal 8″x2″ round cake pan– not a nonstick one– in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel. (If you are using individual molds or ramekins, then skip this step.)

To Make the Caramel:
-Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.

-Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.

To Make the Flan:
-Bring the milk and heavy cream just to a boil.

-Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.

-Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don’t worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean. (Small, individual molds will take less time– start checking for doneness around the 25-minute mark).

-Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

-When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan–the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.

Storing: Covered with plastic wrap in its baking pan, the flan will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, once unmolded, its best to enjoy it the same day.

Serving: Bring the flan to the table and cut into wedges. Spoon some of the syrup onto each plate.

Playing Around– Caramel-topped coconut flan: For a more tropical flan with a somewhat lighter texture, replace the heavy cream with a 15-oz can of unsweetened coconut milk and reduce the amount of milk to 1 cup.


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  1. Oh sweet heaven that looks so good. I’ve been waiting with baited breath when I heard you chose flan~ it is one of my favoritest desserts. I’m so in lurve with caramel it’s amazing we didn’t run off together and have little milk maid caramel juniors.

  2. Flawless as always. Gorgeous flan. Great job!

  3. Your flan looks delicious!!

  4. What delightful looking flans. I think I will regret doing a large one instead of small ones. I think they may have come out better that way. Yours look great! Thanks for a wonderful opportunity to make flan.

  5. I made mine individual as well.

  6. Looks wonderful! Thanks for choosing this week’s recipe – something else that I had never tried before and without TWD probably would not have!

  7. You set the bar so high! Your flan looks amazing. I love how you have the words on your picture — it’s very fanciful. Your idea of using lime and rum sound delicious.

  8. Great choice! The flan is delicious.

  9. Ahh I made flan last week and will be posting about it soon…my recipe was quite different but it came out so yummy! Yours looks beautiful 🙂


  10. Bautiful job! Great recipe…it was fun to make!

  11. Oh wow. Your flan looks absolutely wonderful! Well done!

  12. c’est superbe 🙂 !

  13. Beautiful!

  14. wow- your flan looks beautiful.

  15. I like your substitutions. Could you taste the coconut and lime? I like the dense custard from the cream so I stuck with the traditional recipe. My only change for the future would be to let the carmel darken a bit more. I like the deeper almost bitter taste with the creamy custard. Thanks for the pick

  16. Nice job! I’m so curious about the variation you made…sounds so yummy with the lime. Which version did you prefer?

  17. Oh wow, that looks great. I’m going to try the coconut version next time. You talked me into it. 😉

  18. Your flan looks delicious, but would you make it again?

  19. I’m liking the lime-rum twist! Sounds tasty!

  20. it looks delicious! Great pick this week!

  21. Ooo…you made the fun variation! How did it turn out? I’m really curious because I’m a big fan of coconut.

    Thanks for picking flan this week. This was my first TWD challenge, and it was surprisingly easy. I needed an easy one this week because exams are approaching!

  22. Thanks for choosing this yummy recipe, I love it! Your flan looks really great!

  23. Looks beautiful! I love your pictures as always!

  24. Great pick! I didn’t actually get around to making it (my nephew was born and who can pass up cute little baby toes!), but it looks fabulous! 🙂

  25. Looks great!

  26. I’m going to try experimenting a little next time. I like the idea f coconut milk. It’s sounds so exotic!

  27. Steph, this looks beautiful!

  28. Looks great! Thanks for choosing this week’s recipe. I made the “tropical” version too, though mine is currently chilling in the fridge so it will be up soon!

  29. I didn’t realize what an easy dessert this was. Thanks for choosing it! And the photo … I’m definitely making the flan in ramekins next time.

  30. Your flan looks delicious. I agree: Flans are easy to make. I wonder why so much people are afraid of preparing it. Must be the caramel …

  31. awesome job!!!

  32. Your pictures always look amazing. Great job!

  33. I think I would like to try the coconut variation some time as well.
    Nice choice, btw.

  34. Beautiful! Great choice too!

  35. yummy! that looks perfect!

  36. I love flan and this looks stunning!

  37. Very impressed with your flan! Good going!

  38. thanks for picking a great recipe! i can’t wait to try the coconut version 🙂

  39. In the Philippines, we call it leche flan. It’s perferct with lime. I don’t make them though. My aunt makes them for me. ^_^ Great job!

  40. I am a flan junkie to the 100th degree, and yours looks phenomenal. I have to try this recipe. The one I always use contains condensed milk and cream cheese, so I’d like to try it with heavy cream and milk in lieu of those 🙂

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