Flan (Crème Caramel)

Caramel   Custard
  • Enough granulated sugar to
    cover the bottom of a pot.
  Basic Unit (a bit over half a cup):
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • dash vanilla extract
  1. Prepare the caramel. The goal is to coat the bottom of a pot with burnt sugar. Darker caramel is bitterer and less sweet (but you can sweeten it by adding some unburnt sugar or by putting more sugar in the custard).

    Caution: Melted sugar smokes and burns easily and can spit, causing painful burns. Wear appropriate clothing and be prepared to move the pot to the sink safely.

    1. Take the upper (inner) pot out of a double boiler and cover the floor of this inner pot with granulated sugar.
    2. Find a tray or bowl large enough to immerse the bottom of the pot and place it in the sink. Cover the bottom of this vessel with cold water.
    3. Place the sugar pot over a burner and melt the sugar. Keep it on the burner, tilting it to ensure the sugar melts uniformly. It will rapidly turn brown. When it reaches the right shade (before it starts to smoke), carry it to the sink and gently immerse the bottom of the pot in the tray of cold water. There will be steam, sound, and fury, and the caramel glaze will probably crack and shatter.
    4. Don't forget to turn off the burner.

  2. In a bowl with an egg beater or whisk, mix some multiple of the basic custard unit, enough to fill the pot, beating lightly until uniform.

  3. Gently pour the custard over the caramel glaze, trying not to disrupt it too much.

  4. Place pot in the top of a double boiler and cook until a knife comes out clean (ca. 1 hour).

  5. Chill in refrigerator after it cools.

  6. Invert over serving platter. It should come out cleanly and settle a bit, with a layer of dark caramel on top and the influence of the caramel clearly visible in the color of the custard.