Flan (Crème Caramel)

“I've lost count of how many flans I've made since I first learned this recipe from my paternal grandfather,” says Quang Tran, chef/co-owner of Mes Rêves in Bloomfield. “The only change I made was removing water from the original recipe. The consistency is not quite as thick as most flan but not quite as loose as his.”

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“I’ve alway known this dish as flan,” Tran continues. The Vietnamese called it bánh flan.  My reaction to the first time ordering creme caramel was, Oh, this is flan.’  Well, a flan by any other name is still as sweet. Enjoy.”

Ingredients:  (6 servings using 8-oz ramekins)

6        Whole eggs (large)
1 ½ cups    Sugar
2 cups        Heavy Cream
2 cups        Milk
½ cup        Condensed Milk
1 tb        Vanilla Extract

Procedure:

1.    To make the caramel, place 1 cup of sugar in a small sauce pan.  Add about ¼ cup water. Over high heat, caramelization should begin in approximately 10 minutes. DO NOT walk away. The color you are looking for is dark amber. Once the color starts to change, remove from heat and stir with a ladle or a tablespoon until the caramel achieves the color you desires. Return to heat if required. Quickly, ladle 1 oz. (or 2 tb) of the caramel into each ramekin cup. Let cool.

2.    In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk, condensed milk, ¼ cup sugar, and the vanilla extract. (You could substitute light cream and even skim milk if desired.) You could also infuse the batter with any other flavors at this stage such as lemon or orange zest, pistachio paste or almond paste. Bring the batter to a simmer and remove from heat immediately.

3.    While the batter is on the stove, in a whisking bowl combine 3 whole eggs with 3 yolks and whisk until the whole eggs and the yolks are incorporated. Then whisk in the remaining ¼ cup sugar until dissolved.

4.    Have an ice bath ready to cool the batter.

5.    Temper the egg sugar mixture with the cream batter. Very slowly, whisk in the hot cream to the egg mixture–once the temperature of the egg is the same as the cream, you can combine them. Immediately cool the batter in the ice bath. The batter should be at room temperature before dividing evenly into the 6 ramekins.

6.    In a 325°F preheated oven, place the ramekins in a warm water bath (water should be at least halfway up the sides of the ramekins) and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the batter is set. Remove and allow to cool before chilling for at least 2 hours before serving (best if chilled overnight). To serve, run a paring knife slowly around the inside wall. Place a small serving dish or bowl over the ramekin. Invert it and gently shake until the flan drops down to the dish.

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