Vanilla Caramel Flan PRINT
The universal dessert of the Mexican cantina, flan offers a true test of baking skill, so keep your eye on the oven for the perfect moment to remove the custard. This version is extra caramelly; be sure to cook the sugar very slowly to coax it to just the right degree of darkness.
|2||cups half and half|
|8||whole eggs, plus 4 egg yolks|
|1||tablespoon vanilla extract|
|Boiling water, as needed|
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F.
FOR CARAMEL: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture begins to turn golden, 12-15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking and swirling occasionally until the mixture is dark brown and smells of caramel, about 5 minutes.
Remove the caramel from the heat and pour into a 9-inch round cake pan or eight 3/4-cup custard cups. Using a kitchen towel or hot pad, tilt the pan or cups, swirling the caramel to coat the bottom and sides evenly. Let stand for a few minutes; the caramel will cool down and form a layer about 1/4 inch thick on the bottom and sides. Then pour the excess caramel back into the saucepan it was cooked in.
FOR FLAN: Pour the milk into the saucepan holding the excess caramel and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the caramel has dissolved in the milk, 3-5 minutes. Strain the warm milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Add the half-and-half and stir to mix well. Add the sugar, whole eggs and egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk until blended, then strain through the fine-mesh sieve into the prepared pan or cups. Set the pan or cups in a roasting pan and place the roasting pan in the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan or custard cups.
Bake until the center of the custard(s) feel just firm when pressed gently with the fingertips, 45-55 minutes for the large pan or 30-40 minutes for the individual cups. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 1 1/2 hours. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days.
TO SERVE: Run a knife along the inside edge of the pan or cups to loosen. Invert a serving dish over the pan or a saucer over each cup. Quickly invert and carefully lift off the pan or cup. Carefully pour excess caramel into a small sauce pitcher.
Serve chilled. Offer the extra caramel alongside.