The Quest for the Perfect Flan Recipe


Photo Source: mariamas via

When it comes to recipes, I cannot leave well enough alone. No matter how fervently and genuinely I vow to follow a recipe, no dish leaves my kitchen prepared as instructed. This, I believe, is why my quest for the perfect flan was doomed to repeated failure at the start.

Once upon a time, I hated flan. All the flan I had tasted was a vaguely vanilla flavored gelatinous mound covered in sickly sweet brown, watery fluid.

Then my husband ordered flan for dessert at a Mexican restaurant in San Diego. It looked more like cheese cake than Jell-O, so I asked for a taste.

My husband has a theory that all the women in his life want what he has … be it T-shirts, pens or confections. I proved to be another data point empowering his hypothesis. I couldn’t stop at one taste.

This flan was divine.

It was smooth. It was creamy. It was rich with velvety vanilla goodness.

I had been duped for 30 years!

Flan was no mediocre mass of gelatin. It was an inspired creation of gustatory delight!

I had to find a recipe to try for myself.

The first recipe I tried called for milk as a base. My husband is lactose intolerant, so I thought I’d make it with soy milk instead. Yep, you probably guessed it. What resulted was flan soup. Tasty, but pure liquid.

The second recipe I tried also called for milk. I had to scald it until just beginning to thicken. I guess I didn’t scald it enough — what resulted was flan soup — again — only this time edged with soft pudding. I was getting closer.

Now I was mad.

No dessert was going to get away with scoffing at me like this! How dare flan make a fool of me!

The third recipe I tried called for evaporated milk and cream cheese. Well, third time was a charm. I proudly served my husband a velvety, smooth, perfectly molded flan that cried out to be held lovingly in the mouth before being swallowed. My taste buds sent chills of pleasure down my arms as I scooped another mouthful.

Now all I have to perfect is the caramelized sugar topping … without breaking my pie plates.