Not a traditional recipe, this easy flan recipe tastes more like crème brulee and satisfies some of the pickiest flan adversaries. This recipe is cross-posted from Backyard Poultry Magazine, where I blog about all things chicken-related.
This is my go-to dessert recipe whenever I entertain friends who are unfamiliar with urban farming or backyard poultry. I often serve it after a salad of fresh greens, and perhaps an eggplant lasagne with fresh homemade mozzarella. Really, I mostly like the expressions of pleasant surprise when they taste it. I never tell them how easy it really is.
If you’ve heard that duck eggs are better for pastries … believe the rumors. They’re true. The yolks are creamier. This adds extra calories to the egg, but when you’re making a flan with sugar and whipping cream, a few more calories per egg is a fairly negligible addition. I find that duck eggs make custards and flans creamier, breads richer and quiches fluffier than chicken eggs.
Since my family loves this recipe and I often have 10 or more duck eggs to spare, I double the recipe and use my springform pan.
Though I prefer the creaminess of duck eggs, chicken eggs may be substituted. Standard evaporated milk may replace goat’s milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract may replace the vanilla bean. Additional sugar may be used in exchange for honey.
- 1 and ¾ cups whipping cream
- 1 cup evaporated milk (goat’s milk)
- pinch of salt
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I double the vanilla)
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 large duck eggs
- 2 large duck egg yolks
- 7 tablespoons sugar
Combine cream, evaporated milk and salt in a heavy saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream mixture, and drop in the bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. After steeping, remove bean pod. (If you are using vanilla extract, this step may be skipped. Simply combine cream, milk, salt and vanilla.)
If using a springform pan, wrap aluminum foil around the bottom so the pan doesn’t leak
Preheat the oven to 350F, and position rack in the center of the oven. If you are using a springform pan instead of ramekins, wrap aluminum foil over the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Have all pans ready to go.
Just starting to boil! It’s already amber-tinted from the honey.
In another heavy saucepan, combine the honey, sugar and water. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. (Note: the mixture will already be a light amber because of the honey. If you replace the honey with additional sugar, this mixture will start out white/clear.) Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until the syrup turns deep amber, swirling the pan occasionally. Do not stir at this stage, or the sugar may crystallize. This amber stage may take about 10 minutes after the sugar has dissolved. Keep an eye on the mixture. The change from light amber to deep amber is fast. For candymakers, this will be a soft crack stage.
Not quite dark enough, but DON’T LEAVE THE KITCHEN!
There! Don’t cook it any longer!
Quickly pour caramel into six ¾-cup ramekins, or a small baking dish. If doubling the recipe, as I do, use a full-sized springform pan or equivalent size. Using oven mits, immediately tilt each ramekin to coat the sides with syrup. It hardens fast, so work fast! Set the ramekins in a baking dish that is deep enough that you can pour in water to come up at least halfway.
Swirl quickly to coat the pan
The coating hardens fast!
Separate two of the eggs into yolks and whites. Save the whites for an egg white omelet to eat the next day, to pay for the calories you’ll be eating with this dessert!
The brown bits are from real vanilla pulp. Yum!
Whisk eggs, yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl just until blended. Gradually whisk in the cream mixture, being careful not to create much foam. Pour the custard evenly into the ramekins, on top of the now-hardened syrup.
Fill the pans, then pour in boiling water while it’s sitting in the oven. Less sloshing!
Set the baking pan in the oven before adding enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Setting the pan on the rack helps prevent sloshing as you carry the pan. You may also choose to set the pan in the oven before filling the ramekins with custard.
It’s set! The fork comes out clean, but the middle is still very jiggly.
Bake until the centers of the flans are gently set, about 40 minutes. The flan will still look squishy. If you’re unsure if the centers are set, press gently with your finger. If the top bounces back, it’s set. You can also insert a clean fork. If the fork comes back out mostly clean, the flan is done.
Remove the flan from the water and transfer to a rack to cool. Chill until cold, about two hours, then cover and chill overnight. This flan can be made a couple of days ahead of time. To serve, run a small sharp knife around the flan to loosen, and turn the ramekin over onto a plate. Carefully lift the ramekin, allowing the syrup to run over the flan.
The Morning After
After serving, you may notice glass-like cracks in the bottom of your ramekin or pan. This is simply crystallized sugar from the syrup. Soaking the pan in hot water will dissolve the sugar.
If you try this recipe and enjoy it, please let us know. And if you know how to make it even better, then by all means, please share your secrets!