Make it a baked custard date, just choose your favourite from French crème caramel to Sri Lankan watalappan.
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26 Feb 2021 - 2:27 PM  UPDATED 3 Mar 2021 - 1:30 PM

--- Diana Chan is bringing the wonder of Asian cuisine to your homes in the second series of Asia Unplated with Diana Chan, Thursdays at 8pm on SBS Food and streaming on SBS On Demand ---

 

Flan can take many forms, but all share the same baked custard and caramel components. Here are a few of our favourite flavours from around the globe.

1. Leche flan (custard cake)

This Filipino staple is a traditional Christmas eve dessert and typically made using evaporated and condensed milk. It was made popular through Portuguese influence and differs from a Mexican flan which sometimes includes cream cheese as an ingredient.

2. Creme caramel (flan con dulce de leche)

This rich Argentinian dessert uses lemon juice and vanilla bean to make the caramel. Serve cold with the dulce de leche (milk caramel) for extra indulgence.

Watalappan (Steamed spice cake)

3. Watalappan

A Sri Lankan favourite, spices like cardamom, nutmeg and cloves bring an enchanting edge to this baked custard. It's made using jaggery which adds a deep caramel flavour and coconut milk so happens to be dairy-free too. on Asia Unplated, Diana Chan serves hers with a little extra jaggery syrup on the side, for drizzling purposes.

4. Jalisco flan (jericalla)

The dish was supposedly created by a Spanish nun who worked in an orphanage in Guadalajara, where the children suffered from malnutrition. The nun decided to increase the amount of protein and calcium the children received by making a flan that required milk, eggs and sugar. One day, she accidentally burnt it, but the children still loved it, so it became the new way of making flan in Jalisco. It was named after Jérica, the region in Spain where the nun came from. This flan is similar to creme brulee, but is paler in colour, with a slightly curdled texture.

5. Vietnamese coconut crème caramel (kem flan)

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.

6. Classic crème caramel

For years Poh Ling Yeow was making her crème caramel using half milk and half cream, until a French friend told her that a traditional crème caramel uses only milk – the result, a much lighter, even silkier custard.

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7. Chocolate and orange crème caramel

If chocolate desserts are a big tick for you, don't fret we've got you cocoa covered. This chocolate orange version of the classic French dessert will have both chocolate and caramel lovers spooning for more.

Coconut and galangal crème caramel (bánh flan)

8. Coconut and galangal crème caramel (bánh flan)

This flan with a spin comes from Rian Difuntorum who competed on The Chef's Line who says she loves adding spice to her desserts to mellow out the sweetness. The touch of galangal here helps enhances the creamy coconut flavour.

Mango creme caramel

9. Mango crème caramel

Take your French dessert on a trip to the tropics with a little coconut milk and mango. Lisa Nguyen's recipe is a freshened-up take on the coconut milk-based bánh flan.

Vanilla flan (Flan Napolitano)

10. Vanilla flan (Flan Napolitano)

Remember how we said Mexican flan sometimes has cream cheese included? Well, here we are. You'll need evaporated, condensed and regular old full cream milk for this dairy delight.

11. Let's get into brûlée territory

Guillaume Brahimi's classic crème brûlée recipe is a great marriage of simple ingredients. The rich custard base flavoured with vanilla bean is irresistible with its crisp burnt sugar crust. A simple yet stunning dessert! 

12. Peppermint crème brûlée (crème brûlée à la menthe)

Gabriel Gate adds a little peppermint to the custard of this Northern France-inspired brûlée as this is also a popular local flavour. Make sure you use peppermint syrup and not peppermint essence. You could also use a mint liqueur such as Crème de Menthe.

13. Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana is a classic Spanish dessert similar to a French crème brûlée – it’s a smooth Spanish custard with a hint of citrus and spice, topped with a hardened caramel. A traditional Catalana is not as rich as a crème brûlée and the Spanish use cinnamon rather than vanilla to flavour the custard.

Coconut and pandan crème brûlée

14. Coconut and pandan crème brûlée

Caroline Griffiths takes inspiration from South-East Asian desserts in this coconut and pandan-scented recipe. It's a classic combination of flavours and pairs well with the sweet, custard base of the brûlée. 

15. Guinness crème brûlée with Irish whiskey snaps

This really is a taste of Ireland. The sugar and Guinness are beautifully balanced in the brûlée, and the whiskey-ginger snaps are an easy melt and mix-recipe. In classic Lyndey Milan style, it's simple, stylish and will impress any guest.

Doesn't cut the custard? Try these
Steamed 'water egg' custard

In Cantonese, we call this dish ‘water egg’ – egg whisked with water and a dab of salt, then steamed until it becomes a smooth, soft savoury custard.

Coffee custard (caffè in forchetta)

If there’s one thing Italian’s can’t live without, it’s their coffee. In Tuscany, coffee is transformed into this creamy coffee custard, café in forchetta, which roughly means coffee on a fork.  

A custard tart crawl around the world
Whether it's doused in sugar syrup or spiked with ginger, most countries have their spin on this eggy, creamy classic.
Scallop, mushroom and tofu custard

There's always room in the repertoire for another way to prepare seafood or tofu. This recipe adds mushrooms and Asian flavours of mirin, dashi and nori for a sensational savoury custard.

Chai-spiced custard tarts

Portuguese custard tarts are one of those pastries that I just can’t go past and I love their rustic beauty.