Rich and creamy, this caramel flan cake is a sweet custard topped with clear caramel sauce. A sweet indulgence in summer days that you’ll ever need!
This creme caramel reminisces about my childhood memories. Back to when I was still a little kid, we had been looking forward to seeing a peddler with her traveling vendor of goods. For me and other kids in my neighborhood, what she had in her vendor were luxuries and being able to afford some of them was like a dream for all of us. Being not-a-high-income-family, of course, my parents would not give us much money to buy so we had to save for a few days until we had enough for one item in a peddler’s basket. And one sweet treat that I’ve been wanting the most was creme caramel served in small plastic ramekin.
Growing up, we moved to another neighborhood, and it was less likely to see those peddlers travelling around. I was upset for days after and told my mom that I missed her food items, especially creme caramel. And mom decided to get back to her kitchen and make me a big bowl of that cake that I would never forget. It was so delicious and tasted way better than the pedder’s. Now I can be confident to make these creme caramel myself but those childhood memories will forever stay in my heart.
It’s a delicate and rich custard made of cream, eggs, sugar and milk. It has a crystallized caramel syrup on top and will serve with the custard in every bite. The batter will be baked to perfection in a water bath until it’s set around the edges but still jiggly in the set. The custard will continue to cook while it cools down and it’s best served cold.
Baking caramel flan in a water bath will help the custard stay moist and cream. Water bath will keep the custard from cooking too fast, which eventually causes cracks in custard and gives bubbles to the texture. Some recipes call for a steaming method which is usually done but I found that caramel flan turns out smooth and velvety when it’s baked in a water bath.
To make caramel flan you will need:
Cream and milk: I will use both heavy cream and milk with a 3:1 ratio. For the richest flavor using only cream is suggested.
Eggs: In custard, the more egg yolk you use, the creamier and richer the custard will be. Egg yolk also helps contribute the very nice color to the flan. For the 6-inch round cake pan I would prefer using 4 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs. If you prefer to use more eggs, it would be fine, but the texture will be denser and more eggy taste.
Sweetened condensed milk/Sugar: Since flan has a layer of clear caramel on top, half of 14-ounce sweetened condensed milk (equals to 198g) works perfectly for the sweetness of flan. It will be sweeter if you use full can. Condense milk adds the creaminess to texture but it is ok if you substitute with granulated sugar for this recipe. Vanilla: Using vanilla extract will not only enhance the flavor but also give a better color to this dessert
THE SECRET TO MAKE BUBBLE-FREE, CREAMY AND SMOOTH CARAMEL FLAN
- Start with room temperature eggs. By doing this, warm milk is less likely to cook the eggs.
- Carefully place eggs and whisk eggs one side, either clockwise or counterclockwise. I would help prevent bubbles from forming in a mixing process.
- Strain the custard mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any bits of curdled eggs. This will help give a silky and smooth texture in the finished caramel flan cake.
- Caramelizing sugar is tricky but it’s not hard. All you need to do is heat the sugar in a saucepan until it melts and turns honey color. You don’t need to add water because the sugar will caramelize on its own without any added water.
- Bake the flan in a water bath (read my note above)
- Use a sharp knife to slide around the edges of the pan to easily remove it.
Caramel Flan (Creme Caramel)
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 14-oz can (198g) sweetened condensed milk, substitute with 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 1/2 cup (360ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Make Caramel. Add sugar to a saucepan, heat over medium-low. Allow the sugar to dissolve in a few minutes. Increase the heat to medium high. Cook the sugar to caramelize by stirring until it turns honey color.
- Remove from the heat and immediately pour the hot caramel into the bottoms of the round pan, quickly and carefully tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside to let the caramel harden.
- Make Custard. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
- Combine heavy cream, whole milk, condensed milk and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not bring it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the eggs mixture while whisking the egg mixture constantly to prevent curdling. Strain the mixture into a large bowl to remove bits of curdled eggs then transfer strained custard into the prepared round pan with caramel at the bottom.
- Place the round pan in the center of a baking or roasting pan and pour in boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of round pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes until custard has set at the edges but still slightly jiggly in the center when you gently shake. Remove the pan from baking/roasting pan and allow it to cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- To remove flan from pan. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan. Flip a large rimmed serving platter over the round pan, and quickly invert the custard on the platter. If it doesn’t come out, gently shake the pan from side to side a few times to remove it. Caramel flan is best served cold. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 5 days.
- The platter or plate should be larger than the pan, for example if you use a 6-inch round cake pan you would have to use a 7 or 8-inch round plattter so it would be able to hold all caramel sauce.
- You may add some alcohol, about 2 teaspoons of either rum, brandy, bourbon or a flavored liqueur of your choice instead of using vanilla extract.
- As a Vietnamese I usually pour one tablespoon of cold brew coffee over the slice of flan cake and serve with shaved ice. This is just an option to enjoy the heavenly caramel flan; otherwise you can top with fruit or whipped cream upon your choice.