Traditionally, a standard Flan is a Puerto Rican dessert that gained popularity among people. Gradually different flan recipes were invented as people added flavors to the standard Puerto Rican Flan Recipe. It is different from a custard cake in the sense that the baking process of both desserts is different. While Puerto Rican Flan thickens in the middle of baking whereas a cheesecake or a custard cake thickens and is left to set.
What’s special about a Puerto Rican Flan?
The reason why people are so drawn towards traditional flan recipes like a Puerto Rican Recipe is probably because of how easy these are to prepare. This simple yet delicious recipe can be garnished as you please. The most special aspect of a Puerto Rican Flan is the fact that you can serve it as it is or with fresh berries or perhaps even coconut flakes. Along with the creamy caramel syrup that will be dripping from the Flan after flipping the pan, any other sort of topping works great too.
Creme Brulee vs. Flan
So, what exactly is the difference between Creme Brulee and Flan? They have the same ingredients, have the same consistency, and appear in a similar texture!
The main difference lies in a tiny fact! Creme brulee has a caramelized sugar top, which requires flaming the top with a blowtorch. It appears a slight golden brown and has a crusty texture. A flan has a simple caramel topping that has not been browned. It is soft and gooey in terms of texture. Also, Creme Brulee is thickened with eggs, while flan usually requires cornstarch or flour to give it a thick consistency.
This difference is attributed to the difference of origin. Flan is a dessert that originates from Latin America and is popular in some parts of Spain. Creme Brulee has a French origin and is still a popular dessert there.
Tips for making a perfect Puerto Rican Flan:
Your very first attempt at making Puerto Rican Flan doesn’t necessarily need to succeed. In fact, the first few flans you will make will not have the ideal soft and melting texture. They will be firmer and harder to chew. However, there is no need to worry, with trial and error, you will start making silky, smooth, and tasty Puerto Rican Flan. Mastering the skill of making an ideal Puerto Rican Flan is even easier if you keep the following few things in your mind:
Use water-bath or tray
Some people don’t give enough importance to using Bain-Marie or what is more commonly known as water bath baking. You can easily make a water bath at home. I always recommend using the best flan pans or small ramekins in a large roasting dish that has been half-submerged into boiling water. This method ensures that the heating is gentle which is essential for the baking process of flan. A water bath further prevents curdles from forming. Although with water-bath you will have to wait longer for flan to be prepared it is worth it.
Remove the flan pan from heat as soon as possible. Keep checking on the ramekins every 15 minutes. Avoid the temptation to cook the flan a little more as you will feel the center is jiggly. This will ensure that no grainy texture forms. Overcooking can also lead to strong eggy flavor coming from the flan.
Heating elements inside ovens vary from type to type and from electric ovens to gas ovens. Therefore, I recommend placing the flan pan along with the water bath at the lower-most rack and baking only at 360-365 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a more precise oven then you can go for 370 degrees F maximum for one hour but be vigilant
Always Strain the batter
When you make the egg mixture for Puerto Rican Flan, make sure to pass it through a strain before pouring it into the caramelized flan pan. This will remove all the curdles or lumps that might have formed and ensures that your Puerto Rican Flan has a smooth and soft texture.
How to make lactose free, vegan friendly, keto Puerto Rican flan?
- The creamy egg flan is one of the easy desserts that gets its taste and velvety texture from whole and condensed milk. The fat and sugar content of both of these contribute to the soft, jiggly custard. However, these 2 ingredients add to the calorie count too. To make it low calorie and lactose-free or dairy free desserts you can substitute these two ingredients for almond milk, oat milk or coconut milk akong with coconut cream. I recommend using coconut milk because it makes a delicious flan de coco dessert. It is a Puerto rican dessert made out of coconut milk.
- You can also make it one of the vegan friendly desserts by omitting eggs and using gelatin or Agar to achieve a similar consistency and texture. Also use milk substitutes and incorporate almond or coconut milk. Check out our favourite vegan pies recipes.
- Use any plant based sugar e.g coconut sugar to make it low-calorie keto recipes. Artificial sugars such as xylitol or Zaccharin can also make your dessert sweet and low in calories.
How to make the best caramel for the flan?
Preparing caramel can be a bit tricky, so here are a few tips to help you out
- Use the non-stick pan so that you can observe the color changes during the cooking.
- Pour water and sugar into the pan first and place it on the heat later. Note that the water should cover the sugar. Gently stir but do not splash to avoid the sugar getting stuck on the sides of the pan.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, don’t stir. Let it simmer. As the caramel starts getting its color, move the pan gently so that the caramel cooks evenly.
- The caramel should be a shade of deep golden or amber, not too dark because it will get bitter, and not too light, as it will have no flavor.
- Once it is ready, pour it into the flan mold to halt the cooking process and prevent it from getting darker.
- During the cooking process, be careful while handling the pan as the caramel is too hot and can cause severe burns on the skin.
Puerto Rican flan Ingredients
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water.
- 1 can of evaporated milk
- 1 cup whole milk
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- A pinch of salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
How to make the Puerto Rican flan
Step one. Make the caramel
- Use a heavy pan to make the caramel otherwise the sugar may stick to the base of the pan or the pan can burn.
- Pour the sugar and water into the pan. Make sure the water covers the sugar. Place it on medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Once you observe the syrup getting thick and going dark, stop stirring so that the sugar may not stick to the sides of the pan.
- Occasionally move the pan so that the caramel cooks evenly.
- As it turns to a deep golden shade, turn the heat off and pour the caramel into the flan mold.
Step 2. Preparing custard mixture
- In a blender, mix condensed milk, whole milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla essence.
- Blend well until all the ingredients combine well, the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes velvety.
- Pour this mixture over the flan molds. Do not fill them till the top.
Step 3. Baking
- Take a large-sized baking tray and fill it with water. This is to bake the flans in a water bath so that they remain soft and jiggly from the center. It also prevents the egg mixture from getting overcooked and hard.
- Place the flan molds in the water-filled baking tray. Bake them in the oven at 365 F for one hour.
Step 4. Serving
- Remove the flans from the oven and let them cool completely.
- Loosen the edges of the flan with the help of a knife. Flip them to bring the caramel side on top. Serve.
Baking Instructions For Making a Perfect Flan?
A good flan starts with the right tools. Make sure you have a sturdy baking dish and a deep saucepan for caramelizing sugar. It makes the process smoother.
Caramelizing sugar can be tricky. Remember to keep a close eye on it. Stir gently, and don’t walk away. It’s like a quick dance – golden, not burnt. Achieving the perfect balance between sweet and creamy is key. Too much sugar can overpower the delicacy of the custard, so go easy on it.
Placing your flan dish in a water bath during baking ensures even cooking and prevents cracking. Add hot water to the larger pan just before popping it in the oven. Remember that Flan is all about patience. Let it cool properly before flipping it onto a plate. Rushing can lead to a messy situation. Don’t be afraid to add your own twist to the recipe. A hint of citrus zest or a touch of cinnamon can elevate your flan to the next level.
Baking flan can sometimes come with its fair share of hiccups. However, there are fixes for these common slip-ups. One frequent mishap is overcooking, which can make your flan rubbery. To dodge this, keep an eye on the baking time and remove it from the oven when it jiggles gently in the center. Cracks on the surface can also happen, often due to sudden temperature changes. To prevent this, let your flan cool gradually before refrigerating it.
Lastly, if your caramel sticks to the dish like a stubborn friend, try placing the dish in warm water for a few minutes to loosen it up. These simple solutions will have you mastering flan in no time!
Puerto Rican Flan Storage Tips
- It is always best to consume the egg and milk desserts, like Puerto Rican flan, the same day they are made. But if you have any leftover, you can place it in a refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let it cool completely and then wrap it with a cling film or aluminum foil before placing it in the refrigerator.
- If you want to freeze the flan, you can do so and keep it fresh for up to 2 months. Let it cool down and make individual portions. Wrap each portion in a plastic cling film and place them in freezer bags. In this way, the flan will not absorb the taste of other things in the freezer.
- Defrosting the flan is also quite easy. Simply put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until it is not hard.
- To reheat the flan, the best option is to use a microwave oven. Heat it for 2 minutes and voila.
- If you do not have a microwave oven, you can place your flan in a baking pan and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake at low temperature until it is well heated. Add a bit of milk if you think the top is getting dry.
Why my Caramel went wrong?
Making caramel sauce is a little bit tricky, and there is a chance it might not get right on the first attempt. Here is why!
- You may have used a light pan or the wrong type of sugar to make the caramel. Always use a heavy pot and granulated white refined sugar to make the caramel
- If the sugar gets stuck on the sides of the pan, it might lose moisture and crystallizes. This might make the entire batch of caramel grainy. Keep stirring the sauce and use a wet pastry brush to remove the stuck sugar on the sides of the pan.
Use a thermometer to cook the caramel at the exact temperature as over or undercooking will ruin the caramel sauce.
Frequently asked questions
The flan is a classic dessert from Puerto Rico and has its origins in parts of the Spanish Roman Empire and a few areas of the United States. In Puerto Rico, another similar dessert named flan de coco is quite popular. It comprises of coconut milk and eggs. The dessert is topped with cinnamon and whipped cream.
The main difference between these two desserts is in the topping. The Puerto Rican flan has a soft creamy caramel topping. The Creme Brulee has a hardened caramel topping which is created using a torch or broiled sugar. The flan has a soft, custard-type consistency while the Creme brulee is more firm with a crusty top.
Best Homemade Puerto Rican Flan
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 can whole milk
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
How to Make?
- Pour sugar into a heavy pan and add water. Place it on medium-low heat. Allow it to dissolve completely in water.
- As the caramel starts getting dark, do not stir vigorously, rather gently move the pan so that it cooks evenly.
- Once it turns a deep golden shade, turn off the flame and pour the caramel into flan molds.
- In a blender, add all the ingredients to the custard filling. Blend well until the ingredients combine and the mixture becomes smooth and velvety.
- Pour this custard mixture into the flan molds over the caramel.
- Place these molds on a large baking dish with a layer of water to bake the flans in a water bath. Bake at 350 °F for about an hour or until the desired texture and consistency of the flan are achieved. Remove from the oven and let the flans cool down.
- Use a knife to loosen the edges of the flan and flip them over to bring the caramel side on top. Serve