By Nora Parikh and Nina Parikh
Everyone’s favorite dessert on special occasions in our family is my Filipina mother Nora’s leche flan. Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or any other time of celebration, we all look forward to topping off our meal with leche flan which translates to “milk custard.” The version made in the Philippines differs from the Spanish version because it includes more egg yolks, condensed milk, and it is steamed.
Nora’s Leche Flan
Ingredients for the caramel syrup:
½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons water
Ingredients for the custard:
10 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
14 oz. water (fill the empty sweetened condensed milk can)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ - ½ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
First, make caramel syrup. In a 6-inch round metal pan (the one you will bake the flan in), slowly melt ½ cup white sugar with 2 Tablespoons water until it is completely melted and turns golden brown. Cook on the stove over low heat, stir to mix water and sugar initially, but after combined do not stir it anymore. Watch it closely so it does not burn. Keep an oven mitt nearby so you can move the pan around as needed to keep the sugar from burning.
Set aside and let cool until hardened; you’ll hear it cracking. It should take about 15-20 minutes to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients: egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, water, vanilla, and lemon extract. Mix with a whisk or with mixer until fully combined. Pour mix through a mesh strainer into the pan with the cooled and hardened syrup. It should almost fill the pan.
Place the pan in a larger baking pan with sides. Add hot water to the larger pan to create a water bath to create steam while baking.
Bake for 45 - 60 minutes until firm, similar to how gelatin might look when set.
Cool for at least an hour. It can also be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, run a butter knife around the edge of the pan. Turn out onto a serving dish. The flan should easily release from the pan and the syrup will surround it.