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Mexico Inspired Recipes

Recipes Inspired by Mexico
Flan: Tradition Mexican Custard With Caramel Sauce

Flan is a delicious custard caramel dessert typical of the Mexican kitchen.  This delightful dessert is easy to make, but there is a trick or two, to master the art of perfect flan making. Once you get the hang of it, flan is sure to be one of your favorites!!

Mexican Flan 

Carmel Sauce-

Sugar can be cooked two ways: "wet" or "dry." Wet cooking is the easier method, because it gives you greater control over the degree of caramelization.

  • Sugar and water are brought to a boil; the water boils away and the sugar changes from pale gold to amber to brown.
  • You can stir the pan to help dissolve the sugar, but stop stirring once the mixture boils.

Dry cooking usually involves adding an acid, such as lemon juice, to keep the sugar from crystallizing.

  • Toss the lemon juice with the sugar until it's the consistency of wet sand.
  • Heat the sugar until it melts. Don't stir, which promotes crystallization--the caramel will seize up and be grainy, not clear--but you may swirl the pan slightly to help redistribute any sugar that's starting to brown.

For either method, as soon as the caramel reaches a deep golden brown, remove it from the heat and pour it into the dish or dishes in which you will be baking the flan. (It will continue to cook once you pull it off the heat, so don't let it get too dark or the caramel will taste bitter and burnt.) Be very careful to avoid burns.


Some recipes call for sweetened condensed milk while others use cream or whole milk. A flan made with sweetened condensed milk will be slightly denser than one made with milk or cream. Likewise, flan made with milk rather than cream will be slightly lighter than a cream-based custard. Experiment with different ingredients and recipes to find the one that suits your tastes.

  • Place the milk, solid flavoring--vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, citrus zest--and sugar into a large saucepan. (Liqueurs and extracts are added after the mixture cooks).
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • While the milk mixture heats, whisk the eggs until pale yellow. Don't over-mix the eggs: you don't want the eggs to become foamy, because the air bubbles affect the texture of the finished product.
  • In a slow stream, pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl of eggs, whisking constantly.
  • Pour the custard base through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl to ensure a silky smooth texture in your flan.
  • Stir in extract or other flavorings.
  • Divide the custard equally between your caramel-coated dish or ramekins.


Baking custards in a water bath is crucial, due to their delicate nature. The water insulates the custard and keeps it from cooking too fast, which causes cracks in the finished flan and a rubbery texture. Lay a dishtowel on the bottom of a roasting pan, place the flan dish or dishes on top of the towel, and then fill the pan with boiling water about halfway up the sides of the custard cups.

The flan is ready to be removed from the oven when it has begun to set. Gently shake the pan: the centers of the custard should jiggle slightly. You can also insert the tip of a knife into the custard near the center; if the flan is still liquid, it needs more time in the oven. When the flan has begun to set, remove the roasting pan from the oven, being very careful not to spill the hot water. Let the flan cool while sitting in the water bath, until the ramekins are cool enough to handle. Refrigerate before serving.



The caramel, which set up hard in the bottom of the dish, will have softened due to the moisture in the custard. You should be able to slip each custard out of its cup with ease: run a butter knife or the tip of a paring knife around the edge of the ramekin to release the flan.  Invert a small dessert plate over the ramekin, turn it over, and gently remove the dish. You should have a creamy, picture-perfect flan crowned with a syrupy golden caramel.


1 cup white sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream


Place sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and turns a golden amber color, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully once syrup begins to change color, because it burns easily. Carefully pour the melted sugar syrup into a flan mold. Let cool.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Pour whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, egg yolks, orange juice, orange peel, vanilla extract, and cornstarch into a blender, and blend for a minute or so, until the mixture is smooth. Pour in the cream, and pulse several times to incorporate the cream. Pour the mixture over the cooled caramel syrup in the flan mold.

Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place the flan mold on the towel, inside roasting pan, and place roasting pan on oven rack. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven until the center of the flan is set but still slightly jiggly when moved, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let the flan cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. To serve, run a sharp paring knife around the inside of the mold to release the flan. Invert a plate on the mold, flip the mold over, and gently remove the mold to un-mold the flan and reveal the syrupy caramel topping.





Lisa Love Juliot Lisa Love Juliot walked across the California, Mexico border with a backpack and the intent to travel all of Mexico and Central America.  Eight years later, her journeys continue throughout the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Penninsula.  She currently resides in Playa del Carmen and spends her time exploring this magical area.   She enjoys working for BuyPlaya, a local Playa del Carmen real estate company as the Social Media Community Manager.  A long time blogger and travel writer, sociologist at heart and amateur photographer she is enthusiastic about Mexico travel and culture.  Follow Lisa on Twitter and Facebook/BuyPlaya to find out more about her adventures, events in the Mexican Caribbean and information about living in Playa del Carmen.


Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 3:35 PM by Carlos Martínez
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