Monday, May 17, 2010

Lemon Creme Caramel - it's a Flan!

Rich, deceptively light tasting, but oh so rich...

And that caramel sauce on the top is heaven.  It takes some effort, but it is worth it.

If you have never had a flan before, think of it as a Creme Brulee', only instead of a custard with a hardened caramelized sugar top, this is a custard with a soft, runny caramelized sugar top.

Here's how to do it...

For the caramel topping -

1 cup Turbinado Sugar
1 juiced Lemon

For the custard

1/2 cup Sugar
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Vanilla Bean split and scraped
3 large Eggs
plus 2 Egg Yolks

zest from 1 Lemon to accent (optional)

The Vanilla Bean is a luxury.  This is a company quality recipe, and the bean will set it apart.  BUT...  If you can't find one, or want to save a bit of money (a lot of money), substitute 1 tsp of vanilla extract for the bean.

The caramel is very intimidating the first time I made this; but turned out to be incredibly easy.  Like Julia Child would say, "you have to have the courage of your convictions".  In this case, you need to have enough courage to do nothing.  

Really, I was surprised...

Have ready your flan mold, ramekins, casserole dish, whatever you plan to shape your flan in.  You don't want to overcook the sauce.  Take one cup turbinado sugar and pour evenly in a heavy bottom sauté pan.  Place over medium heat and wait till it melts.  Swirl the pan over the heat till it liquefies and turns an amber color, and is completely melted. 

Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.  While still HOT, pour into the bottom of the flan mold.  This will take about 10-15 minutes.  DO NOT stir during that time, just let it sit over the heat.  It is a beautiful thing when it starts to melt.  It will happen.

OK, time to work on the custard...

Combine the cream, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium-low flame. Bring the cream to a brief simmer, stirring occasionally. Take care not to let the cream come to a full boil to prevent it from spilling over.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the eggs, the egg yolks, and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.  Whisk well, and the "temper" the egg mixture with the HOT cream.  You temper this in order to not cook the eggs.  Add 1 cup of the cream to the entire egg mixture and whisk well, adding air and cooling the cream at the same time.  Then add 1/2 of the egg mixture to the cream mixture and whisk, and then combine everything and whisk.

Pour this into the flan mold, ramekins or casserole dish with the sugar caramel on the bottom.

We are going to cook in a water bath.  Which is just fancy wording for a pan with an inch of water in the bottom.  A water bath helps to cook evenly, without overcooking the sugar base.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the custard has set.  It will jiggle, and you can press a finger in the top with out it going into liquid.

COOL.  Let me repeat COOL in the fridge overnight.  Once cool, take a knife and loosen the edges around the side, and flip onto a plate...

Not a great shot, but here is the side and top of my Creme caramel.  The liquefied sugar topping oozed down the side and puddled on the bottom nicely.

I rushed this a bit.  It only cooled for about 4 hours.  I also used a round casserole pan.  It needed to be much cooler before I attempted to flip.

 1/2 my flan came out fine, the other half collapsed in the flip.

But, it tasted incredible, I dished it up instead of making a tableside presentation... Who's to know!

It is an incredible success!



  1. wor, this look so tempting, sour and sweet, can I have some please..

  2. Creme caramel, flan, whatever you want to call it, it looks and sounds delicious!

  3. You know I've seen that box of sugar in the raw before and didn't know what to do with it!

    Looks insulin worthy Dave!

  4. This looks delicious! I love raw sugar! Will try this soon!

  5. Flan is one of my favorite things in the WORLD! Your photos are making my mouth water - thanks soooo much for sharing!

  6. To quote Liam in the new A-Team movie, "I love it when a flan comes together!" know that was funny;)