Caramel-Topped Flan



Confession #1: Before this week’s recipe, I had never had flan.

Confession #2: After this week’s recipe, I officially do not like flan.

Perhaps it is an acquired taste? I had heard rumors that there existed a love/hate relationship between most people and flan. I thought for sure I would love it. I love pudding, custard, creme brulee, etc. In the end, I had a real problem with the texture and the fact that it was cold. It also tasted a little eggy to me, which may not have come across so much if it wasn’t cold (I’m only guessing). I really didn’t care for it, which was a shame, because it’s such a pretty and elegant-looking dessert!

Thank you to Steph from A Whisk and a Spoon for choosing this week’s recipe because even if I did not necessarily find myself head over heels with the flan, I have conquered yet another first in my kitchen and can now say that I have successfully made flan. I just personally didn’t care for it, but it’s hard to believe that we’ll love every single thing that we ever make! I’m just happy for the opportunity to try out new flavors and techniques.


Next week: Gooey Chocolate Cakes
Last week: Brioche Raisin Snails

Caramel-Topped Flan

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours


For the caramel:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the flan:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ΒΊF. Line a roasting pan or 9"x13" baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off heat.

2. Put a metal 8"x2" round cake pan --not a nonstick one-- in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel. (If you are using small individual molds or ramekins, then skip this step. Use six 6-oz or seven or eight 4-oz ramekins or containers.) [Note: I cut the recipe in half and used one 16-oz. ramekin.]

3. To Make the Caramel: Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber colored caramel, about 5 minutes--remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.

4. Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to evenly coat the bottom with the caramel. Set the pan aside.

5. To Make the Flan: Bring the milk and heavy cream just to a boil. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 of the hot liquid-- this will temper the eggs so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the rest of the hot liquid. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.

6. Put your caramel-lined pan into the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour in enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don't worry if it sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there (small individual molds will take less time--start checking for doneness around the 25-minute mark). A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.

7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooling rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

8. When ready to serve, once more run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan-- the flan will shimmy out and the caramel will coat the custard.

Covered with plastic wrap in its baking pan, the flan will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, once unmolded, its best to enjoy it the same day.

Serving: Bring the flan to the table and cut into wedges. Spoon some of the syrup onto each plate.

Playing Around-- Caramel-topped coconut flan: For a more tropical flan with a somewhat lighter texture, replace the heavy cream with a 15-oz can of unsweetened coconut milk and reduce the amount of milk to 1 cup.

(Source: Dorie Greenspan "Baking: From My Home to Yours" pages 395-397)


64 Responses to “Caramel-Topped Flan”

  1. April on March 25, 2008 at 8:04 am

    It looks great! I didn’t care for it either. I thought if I try it again really cold, that maybe I would. Probably not though.


  2. Caitlin on March 25, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Yeah, it’s definitely a love-hate relationship. Luckily, before this week I had already picked which side of the fence I was on – hate. But at least now you know where you stand, and at least it looks pretty!


  3. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Thanks April! Yeah, I’m not sure if I would like it no matter how cold it was πŸ˜‰


  4. noskos on March 25, 2008 at 8:14 am

    I had mixed reviews here also, I love the stuff and can eat it every day.
    Ooh well there is always next week recipe.


  5. Aud on March 25, 2008 at 8:15 am

    *Gasp!* I’m so sorry you don’t like flan! I’ll step up and be a good friend. I will sacrifice eating it for you. πŸ˜€ I only do these things for really close friends. πŸ˜‰


  6. Ulrike aka ostwestwind on March 25, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Your flan looks great, though. We didn’t like it either, we prefer the crispy caramel layer of a CrΓ¨me brΓ»lΓ©e and the flan was to rich for my palate.


  7. Amber on March 25, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Great job, it looks wonderful. I think that I would not care to much for Flan but I would love the opportunity to try making it at some point.


  8. Gretchen Noelle on March 25, 2008 at 8:33 am

    LOVE your confessions!!! I was not a huge fan of this recipe but enjoy many other ones that are less jello-y. The more custard like it is, the better I like it!


  9. jbw1203 on March 25, 2008 at 8:41 am

    πŸ™‚ Your post made me Laugh! I did not like it either! My husband on the other hand was thrilled and ate his share and mine. Your flan turned out great!


  10. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Caitlin – Good to know that it may not be an “acquired taste” and I shouldn’t keep trying to eat it πŸ˜‰

    noskos – I am looking forward to next week! Gooey chocolate cakes!

    Aud – You’re such a great friend πŸ™‚ You can have my flan!

    Ulrike – Thank you! I agree – I love creme brulee, but just wasn’t a fan of the flan!

    Amber – Thank you! While I didn’t care for it, I was happy to have been able to try something new and make it successfully!

    Gretchen – Glad you enjoyed the confessions πŸ™‚ I agree – I love custards, but I just didn’t enjoy this!

    jbw – Chuckles on a Tuesday are always a good thing! Glad your husband could take care of your share!


  11. nikki57 on March 25, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Well it sure does look pretty! We’ll find out later today if I like flan, some husband got behind on the dishes and when I finally mustered up the motivation to make my flan I realized I had nothing to make it in πŸ˜›


  12. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 9:25 am

    nikki – Hehe gotta get him on the ball! I was glad to have at least tried it!


  13. noskos on March 25, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!


  14. Caitlin on March 25, 2008 at 9:53 am

    PS Happy Birthday! Hope it’s a good one!


  15. nikki57 on March 25, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Haha I know!

    But more importantly HAPPY B-DAY!!!


  16. April on March 25, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Happy Birthday!!


  17. Helen on March 25, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Flan looks great – I’m with you though – I always fing eating flan feels like eating mucus (sorry to be so descriptive!) Ugh! I chickened out this week but def on baord for chocolate goodness!


  18. Ulrike aka ostwestwind on March 25, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Happy birthday ! Enjoy your day!


  19. Amanda on March 25, 2008 at 10:41 am

    That stinks that you didn’t like it. I think it’s beautiful though. Hopefully you’ll like the chocolate cakes next week! πŸ™‚


  20. slush on March 25, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I bailed, so I cannot say much. It looks like a wicked good flan, as far as flans go?? And Happy Birthday babe! Hope its a fab one!


  21. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes!


  22. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Helen – Thank you! And I can’t wait for the chocolate!

    Amanda – I have no doubt that I’ll loooooove the chocolate cakes next week πŸ™‚

    slush – Yeah, I have no idea what a flan should look like, but I thought it was pretty haha. And thank you! πŸ™‚


  23. Marie on March 25, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Lovely looking flan even if you weren’t thrilled with it! I think the chocolate cakes next week will be a real favourite with a lot of people! I can’t imagine anyone not liking chocolate, but then again, there are a few sick people in this world!


  24. breadchick on March 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Lovely Flan and Happy Birthday!!


  25. Kate on March 25, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I love creme brulee and panna cotta, which are definitely in the same family as flan, but flan is definitely on the bottom of my list.


  26. carrie on March 25, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    My confessions are the same as yours… it was not all I dreamed it would be (I am partially to blame).
    P.S. I hear it’s your birthday! Happy Birthday!


  27. Dianne on March 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Sorry you didn’t like it. It looks great though!


  28. Erin on March 25, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Your presentation looks great! I didn’t like the flan either. I hope you have a happy birthday and eat some dessert you do like!


  29. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Marie – Chocolate is certainly a crowd pleaser!

    breadchick – Thank you, and thank you! πŸ™‚

    Kate – I, too, love creme brulee so I thought I would like flan, but lo and behold, I do not!

    Carrie – Glad I’m not alone! And thank you!

    Dianne – Can’t win ’em all πŸ˜‰ But thank you!

    Erin – Thank you! After hearing everyone’s reactions to the flan, I am convinced it is love/hate!


  30. joythebaker on March 25, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!


  31. Annemarie on March 25, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I looks wonderful! I’m kinda with you on the whole custard thing…definitely a love or hate thing. BTW, Happy Birthday!


  32. CB on March 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm


    Too bad that flan was a flub for you but I do agree that its an acquired taste. I like flan but I don’t like bananas. I think its the same concept – texture, taste. Picture still looks flan-tastic as always…
    Clara @ Iβ™₯food4thought


  33. Heather on March 25, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Its definitely love/hate with flan. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I was disappointed with mine but this was the first time I had flan so I can’t be sure I don’t like it. Your flan looks great though!


  34. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    joythebaker – Thank you!

    Annemarie – I do like other types of custards so I was surprised that I didn’t like flan… oh well!

    CB – Thank you Dah-ling πŸ™‚

    Heather – Thanks! Maybe I will give flan another shot at a later date and see what I think!


  35. Rebecca on March 25, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I thought it was eggy, too! Goodbye, Flan. Hellooooo, Gooey Chocolate Cakes.


  36. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Rebecca – Amen sista! Bring on the chocolate!


  37. Melissa on March 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I officially don’t like flan either!


  38. kayte on March 25, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    well it looks really pretty! i’ve had flan once in my life and i was not a fan. so you’re definitely not alone. Happy Birthday πŸ™‚


  39. Michelle on March 25, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Melissa – It looks like there is a fairly large group of us!

    kayte – Thanks! πŸ™‚


  40. Beth G on March 25, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (I keep trying flan hoping to like it some day…but nay, it’s just not for me) Hope your birthday is FANTASTIC!! :O)


  41. hnhanks on March 25, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Yeah, so, I’ve never been a flan fan either. Don’t know why. Oh well, it still looks lovely!


  42. Jennifer Moore on March 25, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Happy Birthday!


  43. mari on March 26, 2008 at 5:25 am

    Happy (Belated) Birthday Chelle!

    Too bad the flan didn’t do it for you, cause it sure looked spectacular!


  44. Michelle on March 26, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Beth – Thank you!! πŸ™‚

    hnhanks – Yeah, I don’t think flan is for me either!

    Jennifer – Thank you!! πŸ™‚

    mari – Thanks, on both accounts!


  45. Rachel on March 26, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Hope your birthday was great! Sorry you didn’t like the flan. I guess we can’t win them all! πŸ™‚


  46. Natalie on March 27, 2008 at 12:57 am

    It looks so good!


  47. african vanielje on March 27, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Despite your confessions this looks most professional and yes elegant. Well done


  48. Michelle on March 27, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Rachel – Thanks! And you’re right – can’t win ’em all, but at least I got to try something new!

    Natalie – Thank you!

    african – Aw, well thank you!


  49. Cecilia on March 28, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Hmm…I’ve always thought that creme brulee and flan tasted the same. I’m going to try making creme brulee sometime soon to see why I thought that.

    Anyway, I’m sorry you didn’t like the flan. Yours turned it so prettily, and they seem to have such nice and smooth finish in your pictures.


  50. CM on July 16, 2009 at 8:28 am

    i love custard deserts especially flan, i normally buy it from woolworths but i really want to try this recipe. please can you tell me what is heavy cream?


  51. Michelle on July 20, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Hi CM – heavy cream would be the same as whipping cream. I’m not sure where you are located geographically, so I hope this helps!


  52. Hana on October 5, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Here in Mexico, I’m one of the “weird” ones that hate flan. I just don’t tolerate it. When I go to a party and there’s flan for dessert everybody goes crazy for it! Yeah, it tastes like raw egg with caramel… Not for me.


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  55. Sarah on May 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Based on your recipe you have more egg whites than egg yolks, which I would say enhances the eggy taste. Some recipes even call for egg yolks alone. I would have suggested using condensed milk, half and half, just one whole egg and 4 egg yolks. But I assume you don’t want to make another batch of these anymore? πŸ˜€


  56. inessa on March 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I never tried this foam but I usually make it with sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk!! Sometime I add a pack of cream cheese for a more cheecake like down, its delicious!! Milk and eggs doesn’t sound very tasty, like u said maybe too effusion… Lol give it a try with condn. Milk and evaporated milk. It’s a can each , vanilla and 3 eggs, or if u add a pack of creamcheese add 5 eggs, and the sauce is just melted sugar in a pan…. Very delicious!!


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  58. angeli on October 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Michelle! I think you should definitely try the Filipino version of flan. It doesn’t use any egg whites. It only uses yolks and instead of heavy cream, it uses condensed and evaporated milk to provide a very rich and “melt in your mouth” texture. It tastes very good, almost like a creme brulee. Please do try it!

    It is also STEAMED and not baked. If you’d like to try it, let me know and I will ask my dad for the recipe! =)


    • Michelle on October 10th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      Hi Angeli, That sounds fabulous! I would love to try the recipe, feel free to email it to me!


  59. Tamara on January 25, 2013 at 4:28 am

    I’m sorry you didn’t like the flan. I’m definetly in the “love flan” camp, it’s one of my favorite desserts. I must say this is the first time I’ve ever seen this recipe. My mother’s recipe seems very similar to Angeli’s with the use of sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in place of heavy cream/whole milk. I’d love to see you revisit or do some sort of comparison between the two recipes

    I just recently stumbled across your site and it has quickly become one of my favorite food blogs!


  60. Kristine on February 1, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Looks great! But I also share your resentment of flan. I also thought it was very “eggy” and eggs are to begin with not my favorite taste.


  61. Sasha on April 26, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I made this yesterday.. It came out perfect, the texture was divine and it wasn’t overly sweet as most places make em. I will definitely be using this more often as my daughter is a flan-a-holic lol.

    Your recipes are on point, its my 2nd one I’ve used from your blog and lets just say I’m gonna follow you till you run out of ideas. πŸ™‚


  62. Cathy on September 12, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Hi Michelle, I just recently came across your website and was looking through your fabulous recipes! Anyway, this one I probably would agree with you that I would not like very much. I have a thing about texture as well. However, like some of the other posts, I make mine with condensed and evaporated milk and two eggs…..that’s it! If you do too many eggs it cuts it up and I don’t like that. I sure hope you end up liking flan one day but if not that’s ok because you have so many other delicious desserts in your recipe box! πŸ™‚


  63. Meche on April 11, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I’m not surprised that you didn’t like it, that recipe is completly different from the one I’m used to. I would hate the taste of it also if made as specified (and I love flan).


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