At work last week we all brought in items to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. The woman who was organizing it sent out a list of things to bring, and when I saw flan was on the list I knew I had to make Luis's Cuban grandmothers recipe to share with everyone. It is better the longer it sits, since it gets a chance to soak up the caramel sauce, so I made it a few days early. Please try this recipe out for yourself!
(FYI, these pictures are a combo of shots from the two times that I made this in one day, and then final pics of a few days later when I inverted it at work)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cans evaporated milk
2 cans of milk (using the sweetened condensed milk cans in order to get the rest of the gooey goodness out)
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
Add sugar to a large saucepan over high heat, enough to fill the pan pretty well. When it starts to brown swirl the sugar around with a wooden spoon until it starts to turn into caramel. When it starts to foam it is ready. Make sure you don't burn the sugar! (If you do it's ok, but you will just need to make it again is all)
Pour the caramel you have just created into a 9x12 pan. Using mitts, as the pan will be VERY hot, turn the pan to coat all sides. Move quickly because sugar will start to harden. Put the coated pan aside to cool. (Tip: add water to the pan you made the caramel in right away, so you don't have to deal with cleaning hardened sugar off!)
Flan: Coating the pan with the caramel, the first time. Luis helped me make the caramel and didn't make enough with the first batch so he made a second batch to coat the sides of the pan.
In a large bowl crack 12 eggs. Break each yolk gently with the end of a wooden spoon. Pour in the 2 cans of evaporated milk, 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, 2 cans of milk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Swirl everything around very gently until combined, making sure not to create bubbles.
Strain this mixture into a separate bowl using a fine sieve and the back of your wooden spoon, again, trying not to create bubbles. This step it to make the mixture very smooth and to get rid of all the gunk from the egg. Scrapping the bottom of the sieve as you go will make this process goes faster.
Making sure that the pan will be in the center of the oven, pull out the rack half way and put a roasting pan large enough to hold the caramel coated pan in it. If you have the roasting rack for it as well that is a huge plus as it will keep the flan from floating around. Pour just enough water to cover up to the rack inside the large pan, so the empty pan is NOT floating when you place it inside. Next place the caramel coated pan into the roasting pan on top of the rack inside and gently pour the custard mixture in. You will hear and see the sugar crack, this is fine.
Slowly push the rack into the oven all the way, making sure not to get ANY water in the flan. Using cold water and a measuring cup with a spout, pour water into the surrounding roasting pan as high as possible to create a bath around the whole pan.
Set a timer for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes check to make sure there is still enough water around the pan. Try to have the oven door open as little as possible during the cooking process, but if the water level has gone down, add more water, carefully. Set the timer for 30 more minutes.
At an hour total, check the firmness of the flan by gently feeling the top with your clean fingers. It should definitely not start to crack, but you also want to make sure it is cooked. It should be almost firm to the touch, but still slightly wiggly. You can use a toothpick to check and see how wet it comes out, it should have just a tiny remnant of custard on it, but not be wet, but also not completely dry. If it is not done cooking add 10 additional minutes at a time. Don't forget about it, though... you don't want to overcook it!
When you feel your flan is done cooking, carefully lift it out of the water bath and let it cool on the counter. Be careful to not get water on the flan or on your hands, it is hot! When the pan is cool enough to lift with your hands, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge over night. You can eat it the next day, but a few days later is even better.
To serve, using a pan with short side walls, since there will be lots of syrup, place it over the top of the pan. Place your hand firmly on the top and bottom and quickly invert the pan to flip the flan out. Serve each piece with some syrup on top. Enjoy!
Here are a few pictures of the flan in the pan after it resting a few days in the fridge and after me transporting it from Secaucus, N.J. to Midtown East. And then the inverted final product at work. Visually this wasn't the most perfect execution I have ever done, but it sure tasted perfect!
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