Food, Sweet
Comments 18

Caramel Flan/Crème Caramel

This is the Nguyen family flan recipe. My aunt, who is an excellent cook, shared this recipe with me back when I was in high school. I make it every year for Thanksgiving. This is one of my mom’s favorite desserts, and given that she isn’t a big fan of sweets, I always make sure to prepare it for her.

Vietnamese desserts have a strong French influence, dating from the 1800s when the French set up a colony in Vietnam. This is a French flan recipe and it is mighty delicious. People who say they don’t like flan haven’t ever tried this one!

Caramel Flan

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°.

For the caramel:

Melt 1 cup of sugar over medium heat until a golden amber color. The sugar will go from golden amber to burnt quickly so make sure to watch the color develop carefully. Coat the bottom of a medium sized baking dish or 8 individual ramekins.

For the custard:

Scald the milk in a medium sized pot and set aside. **Make sure not to let it boil.

As the milk is cooling, gently whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Do not beat the eggs until frothy–simply stir the whisk until the yolks begin to incorporate with the whites. Stir in the rest of the sugar and vanilla. Temper the eggs by adding a small ladle of warm milk. Add the milk one ladle at a time to prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Strain the mixture into another bowl or large measuring cup (I use my gravy separator because the spout makes for easy pouring). Pour the custard mixture in the prepared dish (or ramekins).

Bake the flan in a water bath for 45 minutes or until centers are nearly set. A little bit of jiggle is okay since carryover cooking will firm them up. Allow the flan to cool completely before storing them in the refrigerator. Chill for at least four hours before serving.

I like using vanilla bean paste when I don't have whole vanilla beans on hand.

I like using vanilla bean paste when I don’t have whole vanilla beans on hand.

This is the golden amber color you're looking for...any darker and the sugar will turn bitter.

This is the golden amber color you’re looking for…any darker and the sugar will turn bitter.

Straining is a must if you want a silky, smooth custard.

Straining is a must if you want a silky, smooth custard.

These are so pretty.

These are so pretty.

Off topic, but I sometimes drizzle the caramel on parchment paper and break off shards to adorn cupcakes.

Off topic, but I sometimes drizzle the caramel onto parchment paper and break off shards to adorn cupcakes.

Here is my setup for the water bath. After I place this in the oven, I slowly add hot water (I use a kettle) in the corner of the pan to minimize any splashing.

Here is my setup for the water bath. After I place this in the oven, I slowly add hot water (I use a kettle) at the corner of the pan to minimize any splashing.

Silky sweetness.

Silky sweetness.

I like the vanilla bean specks.

I like the vanilla bean specks.

My mom told me they top flan with shaved ice in Vietnam. I've never tried it that way. It's so hot in Vietnam I'd want everything topped with shaved ice, including my head.

My mom told me they top flan with shaved ice in Vietnam. I’ve never tried it that way. It’s so hot in Vietnam I’d want everything topped with shaved ice, including my head.

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18 Comments

  1. ken nguyen says

    This flan is the best, try it! It’s is soft and smooth as silk, for real!!! Silky flan it is!

  2. Catchers says

    I think I have had this flan last Thanksgiving, and it was delicious. Tell MyHau we also (Filipinos) put shaved ice with flan. We call it. “Halo halo” mix with coconut ice cream, sweet beans, mango. Audrey and I look forward to it during Christmas time.

  3. Bailey's friend and Patty's partner says

    You make the best flan, Bo! The Best! Great shots of the process.

  4. Rany Aguirre says

    Ok so I need more clarification, what does bake this flan in water bath mean ?
    Can’t wait to try !!!

    • Rany, all you need to do is place the ramekins in a larger baking dish or roasting pan. After you place the dish/pan into the oven, fill it with hot water until the water level is about an inch high. I like to boil a kettle of water and have it ready before this step. Be really careful because you don’t want the hot water to splash into the custard mixture. I’ll edit the post above and add a picture for you. 🙂

  5. Beautiful photos and flans! Those are such perfect little glass dishes for them, too. I’ve never had flan with shaved ice on top, but I could see how that would be really appealing (especially in the summer, like you said!).

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