Right after graduating college I lived in Argentina for a few months with an amazing host family. The mom of this family was an incredible baker, and always made the best flan. In fact, flan was around just about everywhere – I even ate some really horrifying flan during a 19-hour bus ride that came in a jello cup. If you can think how bad airplane food is, imagine about how bad BUS food must be. Yeah. (Side note: Argentine food in general is incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I gained a solid 15 pounds in the 2 months that I was there. Not joking.)
When deciding which two ethnic dishes I was going to make towards my 25 Before 25 goal, out of literally an entire world of recipes to try, flan was an obvious choice. Its appeal is subtle – you want it to be sweet but not too sweet, and the consistency is key. I have had watery flans, chewy flans, and tapioca flans, and they just did not cut it. So on Wednesday I set out to make a subtly sweet, dense but not too dense, creamy but not too creamy, flan.
I had no illusions that I would perfect this dish on the first try, but I didn’t want to come up with something inedible, so I spent hours trolling the interwebs for the best flan recipe. I thought about emailing my host mom in Argentina (which I still might do), but realized that in the 2 years since I was there, my Spanish has slowly decayed and I’m not so sure that I’m ready to send her a full Spanish email about my life. So I settled for a recipe from a website called stickygooeycreamychewy.com – sounded promising to me!
Through reading the comments I came to find out that this was traditionally known as cheese flan since it uses cream cheese, but cream cheese seemed pretty close to the consistency I wanted. The recipe was a lot easier than I thought it would be – the concept of creating my own caramel and then baking a pie dish while submerged in a casserole dish full of boiling water sounds intimidating, but it was actually pretty straightforward.
The end result was delicious. The flavor was spot-on, but in my determination to end up with a flan that was neither watery nor too jiggly I actually used more like 2 tablespoons of corn starch instead of just 1, and the texture is basically cheesecake. It’s still very delicious, but I guess I will be forced to make another one soon.
You can find the recipe that I used here. The original recipe is for Pumpkin Flan (which would also be delicious), but in the comments section she talks about how to modify it for plain flan. There are also several comments about using flavored cream cheese or different kinds of milk for all sorts of flan flavors.
Oh, and while I baked, Luna and Brandon (who has had a cold for the past month) napped on the floor in the sun. Rough life.