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Flan in a bakery showcase

Cheese flan – easy, fast, delicious.

I’m a food lover. You already know that if you’ve been reading the blog… or examining my travel photos… or if you’ve been on a tour with me.

So one thing I do while traveling is look for new foods to try… or just the latest version of a classic. With flan, you can do both. Every restaurant has its own take on the classic flan, and many will also do a coconut flan, a banana flan, or some other variation on the theme.

One common variation, especially in Puerto Rico, is cheese flan. Think flan with cream cheese. Depending on how much cream cheese it’s got, you either have a rich flan with a hint of cheesecake, or a real flan/cheesecake hybrid.

Flan in a bakery showcase

.The middle row is all flan. This bakery in San Juan serves three kinds: classic, coconut, and cheese flan.

My go-to recipe is the video below. It’s really easy, and I love the fact there’s no measuring. The hardest part is making the caramel sauce on top. If you’re new at this, here’s how it works: You heat sugar to get liquid caramel and pour it into the pan, where it hardens. Then you pour the flan filling on top of the hard caramel. As it bakes, the caramel magically turns from hard candy into a sauce, which infuses the top of your flan. And when you de-mold the flan, the sauce sits on top and runs down the sides. The trick is to pour the caramel when it’s darker than amber, but not yet reddish-brown, so the burn flavor isn’t too strong.

Quick tip: If you want people to taste it and think Cheesecake!, use a full 8 oz package of cream cheese like she does in the video. If you want it to seem like a variety of flan, cut the cream cheese to 3/4 of a package or so. I do somewhere in between.

Elba’s Cream Cheese Flan

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. You’ll cook this in a water bath. So prepare two dishes, your baking dish and then the larger pan for the bath. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put the baking dish inside to warm up. (This isn’t a must, just makes it easier to work with the caramel.)
  2. Make the caramel by heating the sugar in a saucepan. Stir until it’s all melted, then stop stirring as it boils and caramelizes. When you’ve got a rich golden-brown color, pull the baking dish out of the oven and pour in the caramel. Tilt the dish to coat the bottom. Be extremely careful, as it’s extremely hot. The caramel will solidify quickly once it’s off the heat. (To clean the saucepan afterwards, boil water in it to melt the caramel back off.)
  3. Combine the condensed milk, cream cheese, and eggs in a blender. (Again, for a cheese flan that feels more like flan, reduce the cream cheese to 3/4 package.) Blend until it’s very smooth. Add the evaporated milk and vanilla and blend those in too. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  4. For the water bath, put a dish towel or silicon mat on the bottom of the pan. Set your baking dish on top. Pour hot water into the pan so it reaches halfway up the side of the baking dish.
  5. Cook at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. It should be partially browned on top. When you shake the dish, it should jiggle slightly in the middle. Or you can insert a knife near the center to test; it should come out clean.
  6. Let the flan cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Or, if you’re short on time, you can let it cool to room temperature, then let it sit in an ice bath for a bit… and then refrigerate.
  7. When you’re ready to serve it, run a knife around the edges of the dish. Then invert the flan over your serving dish and make encouraging noises until it plops out onto the dish.

 

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