Spanish flan is a creamy egg custard dessert with sweet sugar syrup. It's incredibly easy to make and all you need is just 4 ingredients! The vanilla custard is firm enough to hold its shape, but once you put it in your mouth, it literally melts on your tongue. By the way, have you tried my Crème Brûlée?
Cook sugar over medium-high heat until completely liquified and golden brown in color, about 10-15 minutes. The sugar will be crumbly and dry at first, but will liquefy the longer you cook it. Stir constantly and remove from heat as soon as it has liquefied and has the desired color.
Quickly spoon the sugar syrup into the ramekins until the bottom is covered (approx. 1-2 tablespoons per ramekin).
Beat the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes until creamy.
Then add milk and bourbon vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour through a mesh strainer to remove most of the air bubbles and divide among the 6 ramekins. Cover each ramekin separately with aluminum foil.
Cook in a water bath, also known as a bain-marie, for about 60-70 minutes. It jiggles like jelly or pudding when done. Then remove from the water bath, let cool and put in the fridge.
FAQs on vanilla
No, this recipe works with vanilla extract as well but I really encourage you to use real bourbon vanilla beans. The vanilla is a main flavor in this dessert and it just takes the flan to a whole new level with the taste of real Bourbon vanilla beans.
Cut off the straight ends of the vanilla beans. Then, insert the tip of a sharp knife under the curled end and slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center of the bean. Although you don't have to cut it all the way through, it's okay if you do. Then open the vanilla bean and scrape out the flavorful seeds with the back of a knife. Just use the seeds.
Expert tips for success
- Before you start cooking the sugar syrup, prepare the ramekins. Place six 1-cup ramekins in a 9"x13" casserole dish and fill with hot tap water until the ramekins are halfway submerged. It's easier to spoon the sugar into the molds when they're slightly warm.
- The sugar syrup burns very quickly. So don't overcook, stir constantly and remove from heat as soon as it's done.
- You'll notice that the sugar hardens quickly when spooned into the ramekins. It is best to place the casserole dish with the molds near the stove so that you can work quickly without having to walk long distances.
- If necessary, return the pot to the heat for a few seconds to re-liquefy the sugar.
- Do not overcook the flan or it will curdle. After 60 minutes, check regularly until done.
- Leave the crystallized sugar in the ramekins after baking and do not scrape it out. For easier cleaning, fill the molds with hot tap water and let stand until the hard sugar crust has dissolved.
How do I remove the flan from the ramekins?
Once cool, run a sharp, thin-bladed knife around the inside of the ramekins to break the seal between the flan and the ramekins. Then place a plate on top and turn the plate over. Shake the ramekins gently so that the flan falls out of the mold and onto the plate. The sugar syrup runs over the custard, so it is best to use a dessert plate with rimmed edges.
Why did mine curdle?
This is because the flan was either cooked too hot or too long. An oven thermometer is highly recommended to ensure the oven is at the required temperature. Also avoid over-baking and check regularly after 60 minutes. It jiggles like jelly or pudding when done.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze it for up to 1 month. Once cool and set, wrap the ramekins in plastic wrap and place in freezer bags or containers. Unwrap to thaw and place in the fridge overnight.
More European dessert recipes to try
Spanish Flan Recipe
- 1 ½ cups granulated white sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups full-fat milk
- 2 vanilla beans* (or 2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place six 1-cup ramekins in a 9"x13" casserole dish and fill with hot tap water until the ramekins are halfway submerged. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook 1 cup (200g) sugar until sugar is completely dissolved, liquefied and golden brown in color. Stir constantly and make sure that you don't overcook it. The sugar burns very quickly. Immediately spoon evenly into prepared ramekins. If the sugar becomes hard when you spoon it into the ramekins, return it to the heat for a few seconds to re-liquefy it. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and remaining ½ cup (100g) sugar on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add milk and vanilla* and mix to combine. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove almost all air bubbles. Divide evenly among the ramekins. Cover each ramekin separately with aluminum foil and seal tightly. Bake for about 60-70 minutes. The flan will wobble like a pudding or jelly when it's done. Don't overbake. Then remove from the water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for 4 hours.
- Once cool and set, run a sharp, thin-bladed knife around the inside of the ramekins to break the seal between the flan and the ramekins. Then place a plate on top and turn the plate over. Shake the ramekins gently so that the flan falls out of the mold and onto the plate. The sugar syrup runs over the custard, so it is best to use a dessert plate with rimmed edges. Do not scrape the hardened sugar out of the ramekins. For easier cleaning, fill the molds with hot tap water and let stand until the hard sugar crust has dissolved. Store leftovers in the ramekins in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
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