When I was growing up, my mum had a lot of friends and colleagues who originated in the Philippines. No one cooks for a party like Filipino people do; you’ve never seen such an array of dishes and people always cook with love and generosity, no matter how much or how little they have. Having been colonised by the Spanish, the dishes of the Philippines have a strongly Spanish influence. Egg custard flans have been adopted as a popular dessert of the country, and no party dessert table was complete without it. This is a really quick and easy version that can be multiplied or reduced as necessary. It has a delicious silky texture and is not too sweet. If you’re making one twice this size or larger, I would recommend chilling overnight before serving.
This recipe serves 4.
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius. Boil a full kettle of water.
In a small pot, add ½ a cup of sugar and cook over high heat.
Don’t stir until the edges of the melting sugar darken and caramelise.
Stir quickly to caramelise all the sugar.
You want it to be the darkest caramel colour, which is achieved very close to the burning point.
If you don’t like your caramel to have any dark, bitter flavour, then just let it get to mahogany.
Pour caramel into the base of a shallow baking dish that holds about 600-800mls. Otherwise divide between 4 ramekins.
This dish needs to be able to sit inside another deep baking dish that will be filled with hot water (bain-marie technique).
In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining sugar and eggs. Just whisk enough until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the yolk and whites are fully blended.
Add the milk and whisk to combine.
Pour the egg mixture into the baking dish or ramekins over the caramel.
Place dish or dishes into larger baking dish and set in the oven.
Rather than pouring the hot water into the larger baking dish before placing in the oven, I like to put the dish in the oven and pour the water in, to prevent that sloshy wave effect as you move the dish of water which is both dangerous and can splash into your custard, effectively ruining it.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is completely set and pressing in the centre yields a slight bounce back.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool until it the dish with the custard is safe to touch.
Place in the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
These can be eaten straight from the dish. But if you would like to present the flan with the caramel on top, use a small spatula or sharp knife to loosen the edges of the custard.
Place serving dish over the baking dish or ramekin and flip it over quickly. The custard should now be sitting on the serving dish. Scrape any remaining caramel from the baking dish over the custard.
If you happen to have a vanilla bean on hand, feel free to add it to the recipe. But a caramel flan like this is so rich and full of flavour it honestly doesn’t need it.