Creme caramel [krehm kehr-ah-mehl; krem kar-uh-mehl]
Also known in France as CREME RENVERSEE, creme caramel is a custard that has been baked in a CARAMEL-coasted mold. When the chilled custard is turned out onto a serving plate it is automatically glazed and sauced with the caramel in the mold. In Italy it’s known as CREMA CARAMELLA, and in Spain and Vietnam as FLAN.
Both crème caramel (French “caramel cream”) and flan are French names, but flan has come to have different meanings in different regions.
In Spanish-speaking countries and in North America, flan refers to crème caramel. This was originally a Spanish usage, but the dish is now best known in the United States in a Latin American context. Elsewhere, including in Britain, a flan is a type of tart somewhat like a quiche.
The Modern English word flan comes from French flan, from Old French flaon, in turn from Medieval Latin fladonem, derived from the Old High German flado, a sort of flat cake, probably from an Indo-European root for ‘flat’ or ‘broad’. The North American sense of flan as crème caramel was borrowed from Latin American Spanish.
Some regional varieties:
In India: Caramel custard is popular, especially in the larger coastal cities, and in former Portuguese colonies such as Goa, Daman and Diu. It is a staple on restaurant menus in the beach resorts along India’s coasts and also prepared regularly in the home kitchens of the Anglo-Indian Goan, Malayali, Mangalorean and Parsi communities.
In Japan: Packaged crème caramel is ubiquitous in Japanese convenience stores under the name purin (プリン) (i.e., “pudding”), or custard pudding. The same kind of dessert are sold in convenience stores in Taiwan.
In Malaysia: Caramel custard is a very popular dessert in Malaysia. First introduced by the Portuguese in the 1500s and sold year-round today, this dessert is popular served in restaurants, cafes, hotels and even Ramadan bazaars for breaking the fast.
In Philippine: In the Philippines, flan is known as leche flan (the local term for the originally Spanish flan de leche, literally “milk flan”), which is a heavier version of the Spanish dish, made with condensed milk and more egg yolks. Leche flan is usually steamed over an open flame or stove top, although rarely it can also be baked. Leche flan is a staple dessert in celebratory feasts.
An even heavier version, called tocino de cielo (Spanish for “heaven’s bacon”), is similar, but has significantly more egg yolks and sugar.
In Vietnam: Crème caramel was introduced by the French and is common in Vietnam. It is known as bánh caramel, caramen or kem caramel in northern Vietnam or bánh flan or kem flan in southern Vietnam. Variations include serving with black coffee poured on top, or browning the caramel past typical caramelization point to make a darker, more bitter “burnt caramel”
In Latin America: Most notably in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay, crème caramel is usually eaten with dulce de leche. In Chile, it is often eaten with dulce de membrillo (quince jelly) or condensed milk. Also at most equatorial and Caribbean countries the inclusion of coconut, condensed milk and evaporated milk is widespread.
In Brazil and Venezuela: In Venezuela and Brazil, it is often made with condensed milk, milk, eggs and sugar caramelized on top. The Venezuelan version is known as quesillo (“small cheese”) and in Brazil, it is known as pudim de leite condensado (“condensed milk pudding”).
In Cuba: Cuban flan “Flan de Cuba” is made with the addition of the whites of two eggs and a cinnamon stick. A similar Cuban dish is “Copa Lolita”, a small caramel flan served with one or two scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Other variations include coconut or rum raisin topping.
In Dominican Republic: In the Dominican Republic, only egg yolks are used and mixed with vanilla, evaporated milk and condensed milk. Coconut flan is known as quesillo.
In Mexico: In Mexico, a variation of flan called Flan Napolitano is made, where cream cheese is added to the recipe to create a creamier version.
In Puerto Rico: Puerto Rican flans are coconut-based and called flan de coco, made with both condensed milk and coconut milk or with cream of coconut, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Beaten egg white foam is used to lighten the mixture. Coconut flan is usually seasoned with cinnamon, rum, and vanilla.
Around the Thanksgiving holiday it is popular to add pumpkin, or ñame purée, ginger, and spices to coconut flan. A combination of pumpkin, coconut, sweet potato, carrot and almond extract flan is unique and only served on Thanksgiving.
Another popular flan is flancocho, usually piña colada flavored with a layer of cream cheese and Puerto Rican style sponge cake underneath. The flancocho can also be made with cream cheese and cake batter worked into the flan mix.
The most interesting but very popular flan in Puerto Rico is a breadfruit flan made with coconut milk and guava.
(Source from wikipedia.org)
- 400g – 14 oz sugar, or approx two cups (use half for caramel)
- 7 eggs (four whole, three yolks)
- 1 Litre – 1 quart of milk. (whole milk)
- 1 Vanilla bean
- Add half the sugar to a mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 160C
- Break 4 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks and add to sugar.
- Place the milk in saucepan, place on stove at high heat until it boils.
- Slice vanilla bean in half and scrape all the seeds.
- Add the seeds to the egg mixture and the vanilla pods to the milk.
- Mix all ingredients by hand for 2 minutes.
- Once milk almost boils, combine it to the mixture while whisking fast.
- For the caramel, place the remainder of sugar in saucepan on high heat with a little water just enough to soak, about one quarter cup.
- Strain the mixture in a fine sieve to remove vanilla pod and any cooked egg lumps.
- Once the caramel starts to brown, shake the saucepan to mix evenly, don’t let it get too dark as it will get bitter. Pour into dariole or ramekin moulds. (Be very careful as caramel is super hot)
- Let the caramel cool down for 5 minutes then fill the moulds with the mixture.
- Place moulds in a large baking dish, fill dish with hot tap water (Bain Marie) half way up and place in oven for 40 minutes at 160C – 320F in convection oven.
- Once cooked, remove from oven and take moulds out of water for cooling. Leave to cool at least 2 hours, for best results one to two days in the fridge.