*Warning: this recipe is very, very easy. So easy it hurts. And might be boring. BUT IT IS REALLY GOOD!*
For the longest time (10 years maybe), the only thing I knew how to make, and excelled at, was flan. My grandmother taught me and gave me the recipe, and it was the only thing I could use to show off to people. The recipe is quite magical – I’ve played around with the proportion of egg and milk multiple times, and never end up with the wonderful texture that my grandmom’s recipe gives. If you put in too much egg, the flan is harder. Too much milk/water, the flan is watery, simple as that. I’ve found similar measurements in recipes elsewhere, too. Must be a law in the flan-making business.
Lately though, my flan hasn’t been up to par: it’s not smooth. It has holes, like cheese! Usually the holes are from some parts of the egg white, so I tried my best to strain the milk-egg mixture. No luck. I FINALLY figured out that I had the fire on too high – the water bath was supposed to be simmering, not boiling all the way through. So I kept it on low, waited 40 minutes, the flan still hadn’t set, so I turned up the heat ever so slightly, and went upstairs.
You know where this story is going, right?
Yes, I forgot about it. When I came down, the water was reduced to half! And holes! Those fucking ass-holes! Ugh. And should you marvel at how I could fail using an oven set at a steady temp – no I didn’t use an oven. In Vietnam we didn’t have an oven (expensive!) so the water bath is always set on top of the stove. For some reason it escaped me that I HAVE to turn the heat down after it comes to a boil. Ugh. Life. Stupidity.
Even so, the texture and the flavor are still perfect, so here we go:
(cooking time: 10 mins + 40 mins of waiting)
A note about container for the flan: If you’re not using small ramekins, you should use a metal or ceramic container that is no bigger than 6 inches in radius/half of the width, and you should have 2 of those, or make the first batch and then put it on a plate and do the 2nd batch. Well, the flan really shouldn’t be thicker than 2 inches, so whatever container that makes that happen, it’ll do.
6 large eggs
1 can of condensed milk
Vanilla beans/extract (optional – I personally don’t need it; the smell of eggy custard is wonderful by itself)
Beat the eggs (try not to beat in a way that allows a lot of air bubbles in), strain once through a handheld strainer to discard the unbeatable boogers-like stuff in the egg white.
Mix the condensed milk in with the eggs. Fill the just-emptied can of the condensed milk with water (1 full can of water) and mix with egg-milk mixture until all the milk is dissolved. Strain carefully once more.
(Do this before you mix the milk with the eggs so you can have caramel by the time you finish mixing)
– if you want the flan divided in small little ramekins, do the caramel in a sauce pan then pour it into the ramekins.
– if you’re not using ramekins, just one big container, and it’s safe on the stove top, boil the caramel in it directly.
Put 2 tbs (or more, or less, depending on how sugar-crazy you are) sugar in your container, make sure it covers all the surface; boil sugar on medium heat till it turns brown – 5 mins tops.
Boil water in a pot that will fit comfortably your container/ramekins. The water should only reach half-way to the mouth/edge of the container. When the caramel has hardened (check with a spoon), pour the egg-milk mixture into the container, and put it into the water bath. Let the water boil for a minute or two, then reduce heat to medium-low (the water should only be simmering ever so slightly) and wait for about 40 minutes or more until the flan is slightly set (it will set more when chilled). You can check by using a chopstick or a toothpick – if it comes out clean, it’s done.
Use a knife to go around the edge of the flan; put a plate on top of the container and quickly turn it upside down. The flan will naturally come off onto the plate.
Good luck! I will do this again and make it smooth, even if it costs my life!
P.S.: dear weather, you need to get fucking better.