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Leche Flan

yield: 1 nine-inch flan
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 12 large egg yolks, gently whisked
  • 1 3/4 cups (one 14-fluid ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (one 12-fluid ounce can) evaporated milk
  • fresh zest from 2 medium oranges
  • a small pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

  • First, make the caramel. In a medium heavy bottomed pan over low heat, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to stir until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking the mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns into a light amber, almost golden color. Be sure to pay attention to the mixture! Sugar can burn surprisingly fast, and if you walk away from the stovetop, you may burn the caramel. Once the mixture turns the desired golden color, immediately pour into a 9-inch round cake pan (or mold of your choice — see baker's notes). Be sure to do so quickly, as the sugar can harden and stiffen pretty quickly. Set aside.
  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Bring a large pot of water to boil; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 12 egg yolks, 1 3/4 cups sweetened condensed milk, 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk, the fresh zest from 2 medium oranges, and a small pinch of kosher salt. Continue whisking until the mixture is homogenous and fully combined; it should be slightly thick, and have orange zest incorporated throughout the batter. Pour the batter into the cake pan and cover the top tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Place the covered cake pan in a baking tray with high sides. Pour the boiling water (from the 2nd step) into the baking tray until water reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan. Carefully transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the sides of the flan are set but the center still wobbles just a little bit. The flan will continue to bake and set after it's pulled out the oven, so you don't want to overbake it! The center should still jiggle and wobble. You can test this by taking a butter knife and tapping the sides of the pan occasionally — unlike cakes where it's important to keep the oven door closed, flans can handle temperature changes and won't be affected if you open the oven door to check the wobble situation occasionally.
  • Once the sides of the flan are set, remove the baking tray from the oven. Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature. Once the flan has cooled to room temperature, cover the pan with plastic wrap to chill in the refrigerator before serving, at least 1 to 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  • Once the flan has chilled and you're ready to serve the dessert, run a butter knife or offset spatula around the edges of the flan to loosen it. Place an inverted plate over the top of the cake pan and flip the two together to loosen the flan onto the plate. You might need to give the center of the cake pan a tap or two before it falls onto the plate. Garnish with any extra orange slices and zest and serve refrigerated.