What constitutes a recipe? This column is always pushing the limits of cooking vs preparing, but that’s exactly why it’s not laid out as a recipe on our website.
Adam Liaw submitted this flan-tastic recipe for The Cook Up’s comfort desserts episode and it’s so simple you wouldn’t be wrong to excuse it for a social media 'hack' video. The recipe for flan (also known as crème caramel) is made up of two tins of milk, eggs, sugar, and that’s it.
To prepare it all you do is brown the sugar, mix the rest of the ingredients together, steam, chill, then serve. The result is a firm-yet-smooth set custard dessert. In true home-style, Adam says his mum used to serve the flan scooped straight from its pan without even turning it out.
There are two things to watch when making this recipe: don’t burn the caramel and make sure you take the flan out before it's fully set or it’ll be overcooked and rubbery.
I made this recipe steamed but if you don't have a steamer big enough you can bake it using the instructions in the original recipe here.
How to make Adam Liaw’s flan
Take ½ cup sugar and place into a small pan over medium heat. Swirl but do not stir the pan until the sugar is nice and caramelised. Pour briskly into a cake tin (not springform or it’ll leak) and let set in an even layer on the bottom.
While that sets, take 1 x 375 ml can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 x 395 g can of evaporated milk and 5 eggs. Whisk together til combined then pour through a sieve straight into the caramel-lined cake tin.
Steam over low heat for 20-25 minutes until just set (the centre should still be wobbly). Cool to touch then place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to cool completely. Turn out onto a plate to serve.
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Flans are found all over the world, from the fancy French crème caramels to, orange-infused versions in Mexico. This one is more inspired by the simplicity of leche flan from the Philippines.
My family, we've always been crazy about flan. I think I grew up eating flan at least once a week... all different kinds. I love this one because it's just super duper refreshing.
The Vietnamese can thank the French for introducing crème caramel to their cuisine but we can thank the Vietnamese for adding coconut. Rich dark caramel coating a silky coconut custard is simply a combination that was meant to be. In different parts of Vietnam, this is also known as bánh caramel, kem caramel in the north or bánh flan.