Baked Custard: Crème Caramel or Flan

Category: 
Desserts, Baked Goods

Courtesy of Laura Sawicki

Difficult

Baked Custard: Crème Caramel or Flan

Ingredients

For 8 Person(s)

Recipe

  • For the caramel:
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cups water
  • For the custard:
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 pinches Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Baked Custard: Crème Caramel or Flan Directions

  1. For the caramel: Place 8 ramekins in a deep baking dish.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, lemon juice and water to a boil over high heat. Cover for 1 minute to allow the steam to wash down the sides of the pot.
  3. Alternatively, use a clean pastry brush and water to wash the sides down to prevent any crystallization. Continue to cook over high heat until the mixture is an amber color, swirling the saucepan carefully to distribute the heat evenly.
  4. Once amber, add a splash of tepid water to stop the cooking—be careful; it will splatter.
  5. Very quickly and carefully, pour equal amounts of the mixture into each ramekin, making sure it coats the bottoms evenly.
  6. Allow to set while preparing the custard base.
  7. For the custard: Preheat the oven to 300°.
  8. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, salt and half of the sugar.
  9. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
  10. Bring the milk to a scald (just before boiling).
  11. Meanwhile, very gradually stir the remaining sugar into the eggs, being careful not to “burn” them (when sugar is dumped directly on top of egg yolks it will cause what’s known as a “burn” on the yolks—clumps forming in the yolks that are nearly impossible to smooth out as you proceed with a recipe).
  12. Place a dish towel beneath the mixing bowl containing the eggs to prevent it from moving and slowly add a ladle of the hot milk to the eggs while whisking constantly.
  13. Once the eggs are tempered (gently heated to prevent curdling), slowly add the egg mixture to the saucepan and remove from the heat. Add the vanilla extract and stir well. 
  14. Strain the mixture through a sieve or fine-mesh strainer.
  15. Place the baking dish containing the ramekins on a rack in the middle of the oven, and very carefully fill each ramekin with the warm custard base. Pour hot water into the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Be sure the ramekins are evenly spaced to ensure even baking.
  16. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until jiggly but set. This may take longer depending on the oven, the temperature of the custard or because these custards can be a little fussy. Fret not—be patient and continue to cook until set. Every 15 minutes or so, vent out the steam by carefully lifting a side of the foil and gently blowing out the steam.
  17. Once the flans have finished baking, allow them to cool in the baking dish, then carefully remove them and place in the refrigerator to chill completely. They will need several hours to set.
  18. To unmold, carefully run a paring knife around the edge of the custard, place a small plate over the ramekin then, holding the plate in place, flip over to release. Scrape out any excess caramel. The flans will keep up to 4 days in the fridge.

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