Flan (Caramel Custard)


Almost every country has a variation of this dessert.  Although it looks intimidating to make, it is surprisingly easy. You can use almost anything as a mold, as long as it is oven-proof. Custard cups or coffee cups are the easiest, but I have made it in a bunt pan before, which looks quite dramatic when you turn it out. Read this recipe all the way through before you start.

This recipe yields 10 servings



1 qt. milk

8 eggs

1/4 tsp. salt

7 oz. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Optional: rum or rum flavoring, bourbon, amaretto (be creative)


7 oz. sugar

1/4 c water


1) Heat the milk to the boiling  point

2) Beat the eggs. Add sugar and salt and mix thoroughly

3) Add the hot milk, stirring constantly

4) Add vanilla, and optional flavoring

5) Coat the inside of the cups or mold with caramelized sugar (SEE NOTE BELOW)

6) Pour the custard into the custard cups or molds.

7) Place the cups or molds in a pan of hot water.  The water should cover  the cups about halfway. Poach in a 325o oven for about 30 minutes (add about 30 minutes if it is a large mold)

8) To test for doneness, insert the tip of a knife into the custard near the edge.  If the knife comes out clean, remove the custard from the oven.  There will be enough heat left to set the custard.

9) Cool

10) Invert the custard onto a platter or individual dishes. The liquid caramel will flow down the sides.  If the custard has been thoroughly chilled, dip the cups/molds briefly in hot water, then turn out.


To caramelize sugar, heat 7 ounces of sugar over low heat in a heavy pan. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until melted.   Remove from heat and SLOWLY add 1/4 cup water ( adding it too fast could cause an explosive reaction) stirring constantly. Return to the heat and cook until mixture is golden brown.


I used this recipe for my “mystery box” test for my chef’s certification (like the Iron Chef competition, only with a lot less staff).  It was a hit then, and has been ever since.

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