This classic Mexican flan is adapted from Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy, who based it on a recipe by Josefina Velazquez de Leon, who collected recipes from all over Mexico and wrote several cookbooks from the 1940s through the 1960s.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 2-inch piece of vanilla bean
- Pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- 6 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Melt ½ cup of the sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the syrup darkens. (Some cooks say that a few drops of lemon juice keep the sugar from crystallizing.) Pour the syrup into an 8 inch flan mold, turning it quickly to coat the bottom and half way up the sides. Set aside.
Heat the milk, remaining ½ cup sugar, vanilla bean and salt, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by ½ cup. Set the mixture aside to cool.
Beat the eggs and egg yolks together. After any foam produced by beating has settled, add the eggs to the cooled milk mixture, stirring to combine thoroughly.
Pour the mixture through a strainer into the mold with the caramel coating. Cover tightly, place in a water bath on the lowest shelf in the oven, and cook until set. Begin checking with a knife inserted into the custard after about 45 minutes in the oven, and continue checking about every 10 minutes thereafter.
Remove the flan from the oven and allow to cool before removing the lid. Cover with foil and put the flan in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to one day ahead. Uncover and unmold onto a serving plate. Serves 6.
(Note: Six ¾ cup individual molds are equal to one 8 inch flan mold.)
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