Classic Homestyle Flan

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This tried-and-true recipe comes from Pastora Perujo in Sevilla, who was known for her excellent flan. It can be doubled or tripled as needed.

Serves 4

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus about 1/2 cup more for making the caramel
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Add the 2/3 cup sugar, whisking well. Add the milk and vanilla extract, and whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Have ready four 6-oz. ramekins. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with a few tablespoons of water. Heat on medium high, stirring and brushing down the sides of the pan just until the sugar dissolves. Boil the sugar syrup on medium high, without stirring, until the syrup starts to color; this can take several minutes. Swirl the pan gently to keep the caramelization even but don't stir it or the syrup could crystallize. When the syrup is a nice amber color, remove it from the heat (do this quickly; the color goes from golden to dark brown in seconds) and pour the caramel into the ramekins, adding just enough to each ramekin to coat the bottom and some of the sides. Immediately pick up and swirl each ramekin to coat it with caramel (be careful -- the caramel is extremely hot).

Let the caramel cool for a minute or two. Put the ramekins in a deep baking pan or dish. Pour the custard mixture into each ramekin, filling each to just under the rim. Put the baking pan in the oven and pour in enough hot water around the ramekins to come halfway up the sides. Bake until a toothpick inserted into one custard comes out clean, about 1 hour; the tops may begin to get some color, which is fine. Let the flan cool at room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled, at least several hours.

To serve, loosen each flan from the ramekin by sliding a thin knife between the edge of the ramekin and the flan, making sure to hug the wall of the ramekin. Invert the cup onto a small plate, tapping it gently to help the flan fall out.