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Friday, June 10, 2011

Spanish Flan

In Northern New Mexico most Hispanic residents say they are of Spanish origin, descendants of colonists who arrived there in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. It's not unusual to meet people whose families have been in New Mexico for hundreds of years.

I don't know how long the custard-based dessert, flan, has been in New Mexico, but its origins are from France, where it's called creme caramel. It's a hop, skip and a jump from France to Spain. The journey from Spain to New Mexico was longer, but I like to imagine women from Spain carrying precious fabric-wrapped packets of recipes to their new homes, trying to make this new country a familiar place for their families.

I learned to make flan from my Irish-American mom, who learned from a Mexican-American friend in Southern California.  At first I was put off by its custardy texture, but it grew on me, the vanilla infused caramel syrup making me a flan fanatic.

Spanish Flan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a 9 inch glass baking dish, round or square, that you have set near your oven's vent while the oven is preheating.  This is so your caramel will swirl around in the baking dish more easily than if the pan is cold.

1 c white sugar
3 eggs
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 T vanilla extract

1. In a medium saucepan, melt sugar over medium low heat until it is liquid and golden brown. Watch it carefully because it's a short trip from golden to burned, and you don't want scorched caramel. Pour the hot syrup into the glass baking dish, swirling the liquid around to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Set this aside.

2. In a blender add the eggs, milks and vanilla. Blend for a minute or two until all is mixed. If you don't have a blender, you can mix the heck out of it in a large bowl. Just be sure it's all incorporated.

3. Pour egg mixture over the caramel in the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Let cool completely, preferably overnight in the fridge.

5. To serve, put a serving plate on top of the baking dish and flip it over onto the serving plate. This will be gooey, so choose a serving plate with edges to contain all that caramelly goodness.

Some cooks customize their flan, adding grated orange rind, making it a chocolate flan, or switching out the vanilla for almond extract. I suggest starting with the basic recipe here. If you like it, then let your creativity fly.


  1. Bridget~~ can I use Splenda?? gotta' watch sugar intake.... Jeanie (S.S.)

  2. I don't think Splenda would work because it doesn't caramelize like sugar does. I found this recipe, though, which uses less sugar and substitutes some whites for the whole eggs. You still get that caramel, just less of it.


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