Considered one of the classic Mexican desserts, flan takes on a far more distinctive character when prepared using fragrant vanilla beans. Mexican vanilla flan should be made one day ahead of time and stored, refrigerated, in the mold in which it has been prepared.
- 1 quart milk
- 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 lightly beaten egg yolks
- 2 lightly beaten egg whites
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla beans and 1/2 cup of the sugar, stirring frequently, until hot and slightly thickened.
Cover, remove from heat, and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
Remove and discard vanilla beans.
When the mixture is cool, add the egg yolks and whites and stir until well combined.
Meanwhile, caramelize 6 deep individual custard cups or a flan mold by dusting with remaining sugar and placing in a 350º F oven until the sugar has melted and begun to caramelize.
Move the molds so that the inner surfaces are coated with the caramel.
Pour custard into the molds and place in a pan of water.
Lower the oven temperature to 300º F and bake for an hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool, then chill in the molds in the refrigerator overnight.
Unmold just before serving time by running a knife around the edges and inverting the flan onto desert plates.
Makes 6 servings.
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