Ever since I can remember “Leche Flan” was always a party staple.
My mother, grandmothers, and aunts make this yummy custard for every family get together, and I’ve always loved it!
Growing up I watched the women in our family make this beloved Filipino dessert a day or two before a party. They always steamed it in the oven by placing the pans in a water bath. So when I started making it for my family and events I made it just the way my grandmother did. Little did I know there was an easier and faster way to make it on the stove top!
I don’t make this flan often, it’s SO good, but SO unhealthy! Just thinking about the ingredients in this dessert makes my arteries harden! It’s made from all the good stuff; egg yolks, milk, and sugar, so what’s not to like? I do make it at least twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, although every so often during the rest of the year I get a yen for it. I try not to make it so I go to different Filipino restaurants in search for Leche Flan that tastes like homemade. Alas nothing in my area ever comes close and I walk away disappointed and still craving it. I usually end up whipping up a batch once or twice during the year, but that’s it!
Flan has a long history, its origins date back to Ancient Rome nearly 2000 years ago. Flan means “flat cake” in Latin. Back in the day this egg based custard was basically a savory dish, a particular delicacy was eel flan! (There is an ancient record of a sweet honey flan.) When Rome conquered the known world they took their flan recipes with them, hence it spread throughout Europe. The Roman Empire may have fallen, but their flan survives, having been adapted to the sweeter versions we know today.
The Spaniards where the first to top flan with caramel sauce. Their recipes went with them when they colonized South America, Mexico, and beyond. Today we think of Flan as a Latin Dessert with many different flavors including coffee, cinnamon, strawberry, and more. The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 500 hundred years, plenty of time for Flan to become a Filipino favorite!
Our version of flan is sinfully delightful! It’s creamy and smooth, and very yummy. It is however chock full of cholesterol. The recipe calls for egg yolks! My mother and other relatives have tried to make our family recipe more health friendly, but it’s not the same. I’ve only ever used my grandmother’s recipe. I will not settle for anything less! I figure we don’t indulge often, and if you go thru the trouble of making it you might as well do it right.
I did however recently try the stove top method and love it! So the only change I’m making from now on is in the cooking method. Here’s my grandma’s recipe! Enjoy!
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. finely grated lime rind
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1. Prepare your steamer. I didn’t have a large enough steamer so I used a very large pot with a lid.
I placed an inverted 9″ cake pan on the bottom and filled it with water even with the cake pan. I then placed the 9″ cake pan I was using for the flan on top of the inverted one.
2. Make your caramelized sugar topping in a non-stick sauce pan.
Put 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup water in pan. Set it over medium to medium/high heat, you will have to adjust the heat as it boils.
Let it boil. This happens fairly quickly and once it starts boiling you have to keep swishing it around so it doesn’t burn. If it’s boiling too much lower the heat. (see video below)
The sugar mixture will thicken into a syrup as it boils, It’s important to keep the liquid moving in the pan by constantly rotating the pan as it boils. Hold it close to the stove so it keeps boiling.
Once the syrup starts to turn golden brown on the edges you must keep swirling it or it will burn.
This happens very fast so keep a close eye on it. As you swirl the syrup the brown color will spread. When the entire mixture is a thick golden brown remove from heat immediately and pour into the prepared cake pan.
Once you’ve poured it into the pan immediately swirl it around to coat as much of the pan bottom as possible before it hardens. Set aside.
3. Mix egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and evaporated milk in a bowl. Stir until it’s smooth and sugar has dissolved.
4. Stir in vanilla and lime rind. Stir very well.
5. Strain egg mixture into prepared pan. Make sure you strain out all the rind.
6. Place lid on large pot. Steam on the stovetop at medium/low to medium heat. Steam for about 30-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
7. Remove from steamer and cool at least 2-3 hours.
8. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the sides. Invert into serving dish when ready to serve. Make sure it’s completely cooled before inverting or it will fall apart.