1. Croatia-made: Crème caramel
Every country claims crème caramel as its own, but for Croatian-born, Melbourne-based chef Ino Kuvacic, there is only one original dubrovacka rozada and it’s made in Dubrovnik. Made in individual dariole moulds, these custards are spiked with lemon zest and maraschino liqueur.
2. Festive Filipino: Leche flan (custard cake)
While Rudolph chomps on carrots and Santa sips his milk, Filipinos will be tucking into leche flan come Christmas Eve. Served as a singular slab, sweet treat contains three types of milk: condensed, evaporated and your regular old cow’s milk.
3. Mexican inspiration: Jalisco flan (jericalla)
Few desserts have a story as interesting as Mexico’s jericalla. It’s said this dish was created by a Spanish nun caring for malnourished orphans in the state of Jalisco. Wanting to increase their protein and calcium intake, she made flans with milk, eggs and sugar. One day, the nun burnt the flans, but the children loved it so a new style of flan-making was born. This dessert takes its name from Jérica, the Spanish region our nun heralded from.
4. French favourite: Classic crème caramel
Perhaps most famed for their crème caramel, theFrench swear by a certain rule: use only milk – not cream – to make your custard. The result, traditionalists say, is much lighter and silkier. Poh Ling Yeow backs up the claim, calling this dessert her “all-time favourite dessert”.
5. From Vietnam, with love: Coconut crème caramel (kem flan)
The French might’ve introduced crème caramel to South-East Asia, but it was the Vietnamese who had the bright idea of adding coconut. Depending on where you go in Vietnam, this dessert may be known as bánh caramel, kem caramel in the north or bánh flan; in our books, it’s always delicious. Here, Anneka Manning adds toasted flakes of coconut for a special touch.
6. Argentina's decadent dessert: Crème caramel (flan con dulce de leche)
For those who like their desserts crazy-indulgent, Argentina’s flan is the recipe for you. Not only does this rich recipe include the regular components – caramel (lemon-spiked) and custard (with vanilla) – it’s also doused with dulce de leche upon serving.
7. American beauty: Orange vanilla flan
Food Network’s Pati Jinich is a self-confessed flan fiend: “My family, we've always been crazy about flan. I think I grew up eating flan at least once a week”. Garnished with citrus segments, this zesty number is one we get behind, too.
And the winner is...
If you love a ginger crème brûlée – exemplified here with a mandarin twist – up the sweet-yet-spicy stakes with Iyan Difuntorum's coconut and galangal crème caramel. Melding beautifully with the creamy coconut, galangal adds a kick to each bite. Home cook and sugar-spinning maestro Iyan took out the trophy for best bánh flan in Series 1 of The Chefs' Line with this special dish.
Check out sbs.com.au/thechefsline for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more!