Today we’re making my mom’s Puerto Rican flan recipe. This classic dessert consists of a lusciously creamy custard filling topped with homemade caramel.
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A Puerto Rican Classic
Flan is a classic Puerto Rican dessert (also known as an egg custard to many) and is made with a milk and egg base.
Traditionally, this custard is poured over a caramelized sugar base, baked and flipped upside down to reveal a beautiful caramel topping.
It’s the perfect combination of light creamy custard and rich sweet caramel.
Ingredients + how to
Here at Salima's Kitchen, we love an easy recipe and my mom’s Puerto Rican flan recipe is about as simple as it gets.
In fact it's so easy, it comes together in 3 simple steps:
- Make your caramel (1 ingredient, 15 minutes)
- Blend literally everything else in a blender (yes, a blender)
- Pour the mix over your caramel and bake in a water bath. Flip it and serve!
Heading to the store and need a list? I’ve got you covered!
To make this dish you will need:
For the caramel layer :
- White granulated sugar
For the filling:
- 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
- vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- 5 eggs
- More white granulated sugar
Making the caramel (you’ve got this!)
If you've ever researched making caramel at home, you may have been spooked by all the complicated directions, degrees and instructions on cooking with candy thermometers.
But fear not, my mom’s Puerto Rican flan recipe has the easiest directions for making caramel you will ever follow. No thermometers or candy making degrees required.
What this caramel recipe does require is patience.
I promise that like my mom and I, you will think everything is "under control". You will likely get bored of staring at a pan of sugar and be tempted to walk away to do the dishes, text, or pour yourself a drink.
Don't fall for this trap.
Dedicate 15-20 minutes to watching your sugar slowly melt, shaking the pan occasionally to help things melt evenly. This dry method of caramel making is so simple, but does require 100% of your attention.
Pour your sugar into a dry pan over medium low heat. Resist the urge to mess with the heat. Just trust me.
Keep shaking the pan occasionally to help the sugar crystals melt evenly. Eventually your sugar will start to brown and bubble and liquify. This is what you want!
My mom and I usually grab a round glass pyrex dish for this recipe but you can use whatever you have on hand that's oven safe.
Creme Brulee vs. Flan
For many Americans, flan is just the Spanish version of Creme Brulee.
While the two dishes have many similarities, flan does not have the hard brulee crust or require any special tools (like a torch) to make.
Additionally, flan involves the process of baking the custard on top of the caramel, then flipping it after it's cooked and cooled. Creme brulee involves baking the custard alone, then sprinkling with sugar and using a torch to caramelize as mentioned above.
Different variations to try
This version of flan is the most traditional in Puerto Rico and can be found at most panaderias (Puerto Rican or Spanish bakeries).
Many Latin cultures have their own versions of the traditional flan that will vary between countries. That said, there are also variations between flavors of flan.
I've seen cheese flan, guava flan, and flancho (cake based) flan.
Last year on Salima’s Kitchen my mom and I shared this Puerto Rican Salted Coconut Flan. We gave the classic dessert a tropical twist using sweetened condensed coconut milk in the custard and adding some salt to the caramel. I highly recommend giving it a try if you enjoy the classic version!
That said, you can experiment with any of your favorite sweet flavors in this dessert.
You can play around and incorporate different tropical fruit flavors as you like, but this Puerto Rican Salted Coconut Flan is my new favorite variation.
In the end, you can't go wrong with flan.
And if you're interested in trying some other Puerto Rican food, check out this collection of my favorite Puerto Rican recipes.