Caramel Flan

My mother's signature dish is flan.  She gave me her recipe once and it has never worked for me.  The caramel stuck to the mold and would not come out, and the flan itself was dense and heavy.  When she made it for us last Christmas, I realized that she was having the same problems with the recipe as I had. Clearly, it was time to find a new recipe for flan.

This recipe from the Star Tribune is a revelation.  It works!  And it tastes good.  Plus the custard has a light clean taste as flan should.  It's not complicated to make, but it does need to be made ahead of time as the flans must chill overnight.

I'd advise filling one of your ramekins with 6 oz of water to see exactly where the fill is before you make this the first time.

Caramel Flan
Recipe from the Star Tribune
Serves 6

2 Tblsp water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tblsp light corn syrup
3 egg yolks at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cup 1% milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 325 degrees.  Place a double layer of paper towels in the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan and then arrange six (6 oz) ramekins in the pan.

In a small heavy saucepan combine the water, sugar and corn syrup.  Stir gently just to moisten the sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook without stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until it is golden, about 3 minutes.  Stir slowly as the color darkens to dark amber, then quickly divide the caramel among the ramekins.  Let the caramel cool and harden.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks and eggs, whisk to combine but not to the point of causing the eggs to foam or you'll have bubbles in your custard.  Whisk in the milk, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl.  Divide custard evenly between the ramekins.

Pour very hot (not boiling) water into the baking pan, being careful not to splash water into the custard, until the water is about 1 1/2" deep.  Bake the flans for 50-60 minutes.  Remove the ramekins from the pan to cool.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours.

To serve, run a knife around each dish to loosen the flan. Place a small plate over the top and flip to release the flan onto the plate.  It may take a minute or two for the flan to drop down--be patient.