Spanish Flan

July 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm 18 comments

Spanish Flan topped with Blackberries

Well, I’ve certainly been in a baking mood lately.  And a picture taking mood, though you’ve only seen the tip of that particular iceberg.  But for some reason the past week or so has been a tough one from a blog writing stand point.  I think it has to do with this oh-too-seasonal weather that’s rolled through good old muggy and hot Pennsylvania and the havoc said weather has had on my garden.  Some years – fortunately very few – it’s just not fun to be a gardener.   I feel bad speaking negatively here about growing your own food, but I think I owe you the truth about the challenges so you don’t all curse my name later when you have late blight wiping out all your tomatoes, squash bugs sucking the life out of your vine crops, massive thunderstorms splaying your corn flat, and deer nipping your beans to the ground.  If this is happening to you, take heart (I tell this to myself just as much as to you) as the joys of the garden far outweigh the trials in the long run and next year is sure to be better. 


So, in any case, all I really meant to say was that I’ve been lacking in inspiration to write about all things straight from the farm when the “farm” is forcing me to run around in circles looking for the bright side.   As it turns out, the world still turns and chickens still lay eggs.  Gorgeous creamy eggs to be precise.  And the edge of the woods still harbors happy blackberry bushes.  Bushes that produce dark sweet juicy jewels to be precise.   Who needs vegetables, I say!   Bring on the fruity indulgences of summer! 

Sweet Peas and Caramel

The same friend who generously hands me a carton of these handsome eggs every week also leant me the cookbook from which this recipe for Spanish Flan comes.   Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America was a lovely book to read, full of childhood stories from the chef/writer and rustic yet rather contemporary recipes for some delicious looking food.  This is the only recipe I actually had a chance to try out before I returned the book, and it is outstanding!  Creamy and sweet, with the homemade caramel lending a hint of smoke and warmth to keep the flan from being overwhelmingly sugary.  What I found impressive was how smooth the consistency was throughout each of the flans – nary an air bubble in sight.  Chef Andres credits this to the low temperature at which it is baked. 

Spanish Flan Diptych

Spanish Flan topped with fresh seasonal fruit would certainly make for an impressive and decadent dessert at a summer dinner party.  Served with a refreshingly cold glass of fruity white wine, it’s pretty much the perfect ending to the day and a great way to chase away a furrowed brow that’s been dwelling on the state of the vegetable garden for too long. 

Taking a bite


Adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America

1 C. plus ¾ C. granular sugar
½ C. half-and-half
½ C. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 lemon, zested
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Begin by making the caramel.  Put the 1 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan over very low heat.  Swirl it around every minute or so until it turns light brown.  Begin stirring as the sugar starts liquefying.  Once the lumps are gone, stir vigorously (do not leave it or it will boil over and burn!) for another two minutes.  The color should be a rich brown.  

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add 1/3 cup of warm water.  The caramel will sputter and steam as it hardens.  Return the pan to very low heat, stirring constantly, and cook until the caramel is thick and syrupy, about five minutes.   Take off the stove and allow to cool for a few minutes, but not too long.  Divide the caramel between four small ramekins and roll them around to evenly coat the sides and bottom.  Set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 275 F. 

Combine the half-and-half and the cream in a medium saucepan.  Add the vanilla bean, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and the remaining ¾ cup of sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, removing the pan from the heat just as it reaches a boil. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.  Carefully pour the hot cream mixture into the eggs, whisking vigorously.  Strain the mixture into another bowl; then fill the ramekins with the mixture. 

Set the ramekins in a deep baking pan and carefully fill the pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove and let the ramekins cool on a rack or towel. 

Store the flans in the refrigerator overnight.  Serve cold, turning upside down on a serving plate to unmold each flan.

(serves 4)


Entry filed under: Recipes, Sweet Treats. Tags: , , , , .

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18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. k  |  July 28, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I know that flan usually has carmel – I have seen it with chocolate but your wonderful blackberries makes me think how great it would be with a blackberry reduction…you always make me want to cook!

    • 2. Jennie  |  July 30, 2009 at 11:05 am

      And YOU always make me want to go back in the kitchen and make the dish again with your amazing adaptation ideas, K!! I so should have made a blackberry reduction! 🙂 Next time!

      • 3. k  |  August 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm

        I am so glad to have a recipe for flan now. I hate to admit it – but everytime I have had it – it came from a box. I hung out with some students from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and the loved flan, made it all the time, but it was always boxed. I was never brave enough to try homemade because the sauce always intimidated me.

  • 4. Leyla  |  July 29, 2009 at 12:16 am

    WHere I live there’s no half and half what can I substitute it with?

    • 5. Jennie  |  July 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

      Leyla – Do you have evaporated milk there (usually comes in a can)? You can just that as a straight substitute (1/2 cup, in the case of this recipe) or, if you don’t have that, I’ve heard you can mix equal parts whole milk and heavy cream (1/4 cup heavy cream and 1/4 cup milk, in the case of this recipe). I haven’t tried that though myself.

      Any readers have other suggestions? 🙂

      • 6. Jason  |  July 31, 2009 at 7:39 am

        I’ve definitely had success with mixing whole or even 2% milk in equal parts with heavy cream to make a stand-in half and half. After all, that’s pretty much what half and half is! Evaporated milk would add a richer flavor compared, I think, but it’s really all in what taste you prefer.

  • 7. Narty Studenckie  |  July 29, 2009 at 4:55 am

    It’s delicious and easy to make. My daughter makes it every other sunday and we’re all loving it!

    • 8. Jennie  |  July 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

      Lucky ducks!

  • 9. Becky and the Beanstock  |  July 29, 2009 at 8:36 am

    You certainly have reached the challenging part of the gardening season — the part where you don’t even want to be outside. The part where the weeds grow faster than the veggies, the veggies are growing way too fast to keep staked, and the blight is creeping in. Yep — humid summer highlights. But hey, when life gets tough, make flan with blackberries, no? 🙂

    • 10. Jennie  |  July 30, 2009 at 11:10 am

      Yeah, you’re right, Becky. Though ironically since I use a fabric mulch in my garden, I’m not fighting any weeds. Thank goodness as I really do hate gardening with so much sweat in my eyes! 🙂

  • 11. Alana  |  July 29, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Oh, we’ve got the late blight over here too. But I think sugar really helps, and you’ve got the right idea with these gorgeous flans. I’m finding that as the garden gets more difficult, there are a lot more cookies being baked around here.

    • 12. Jennie  |  July 30, 2009 at 11:11 am

      Alana – Cookies can make just about anything better, even bummer late blight. Now I just have to figure out how to bake on the grill so I don’t have to heat up my kitchen… ideas?

  • 13. curiousdomestic  |  July 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Such beautiful eggs! I also applaud your gardening efforts, troubled as they may be by bugs and weather. Too hot to bake now, but when it cools down, I’d like to try making your flan. Thanks!

  • 14. roobc  |  July 31, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Oh my gosh…that flan looks fantastic! Thank you for sharing the recipe 🙂

  • 15. ziabaki  |  August 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    This is crazy beautiful! I love the blackberries with the vibrant orange flan. Very nice. I will have to give this a try! Thank you once again for such a nice post.
    Dana Zia

  • 16. Carla  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Hi… I’ve been following your blog for a while and have been raving about it to my sister.

    This recipe looks amazing! Ever since I was small I have been making the recipe that my family has passed down for generations (4 ingrdients, total!) and baking it in the most beautiful bundt pan that my grandfather brought with him from a holiday in Paris specifically for creme caramel baking a LONG time ago. but I was wondering why you thought that air bubbles were a bad thing? My grandmother always said that the mark of a great creme caramel was in the presence of just the right amount of “holes” (air bubbles to her poor English). Usually that meant that around the sides of the creme caramel looked like Swiss cheese with tiny holes that the caramel would settle in for a punch of more goodness. Its funny that we all eat our creme the same way… the dense, creamy middle part first, and then we leave the hole-y edges for last.

    I am going to try your recipe tonight though! I can not wait! Anything with cream and vanilla beans is a star in my book!

    Keep up your amazing work! Your blog is truely fantastic!

  • 17. Olivia  |  July 4, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I had a ton of extra eggs from my CSA and decided to make this flan.

    I don’t think I cooked it long enough because it was a little soupy.

    The flavor was amazing though! I will definitely have to try again.

  • 18. Silvia Gutierrez  |  January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    OMG this looks spool. delicious.


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