Flan for breakfast!? Yes, please. It was a little embarrassing how happy this made me. To be honest, I am a bit of a health food freak. My family doesn’t go a day without kale on their breakfast plate. But when in Cuba, eat Cuban flan for breakfast. And this doesn’t make me a bad mother because I wasn’t the one who served it.
Amarilis and her well-used flan pan
When the flan showed up on our table at Amarilis’ house in Viñales, Cuba where we stayed for several days, I had to stop her and find out how she made it. Thank you for translating, Jay. I am pretty sure she has made this so many times that she could do it sleepwalking. Great cooks like Amarilis don’t really even measure, they just intuit their way through a dish. So when she explained the process to Jay there was a lot of 2-3 of this or a cup or so of that. Beija and I were forced to make this recipe several times just to make sure that we had it right. My friends, family, and coworkers were also forced to eat it several times. They didn’t act like they were suffering.
Amarilis’ Cuban flan is dense and mildly sweet with a wonderful mouthfeel. I don’t think I have ever used that word out loud before, but I just know that this flan feels pretty good in my mouth. Since preparation is so simple it is a good recipe to make with young children or to send your older children off to make for you. So here you have it, two ways to make amazing Cuban flan: Amarilis’ way and my coconut riff.
1. Amarilis’ Basic Cuban Flan
1 cup milk
1 cup powdered milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (I like it a little less sweet, but if you don’t go for the full 1/2 cup)
- In a smallish metal bowl that can go in the oven, mix the wet ingredients, add the dry.
- To get all the lumps out I used my immersion blender, but if you are a strong whisker that should do it.
- To cook, I tried it two ways and they worked equally well but one was a little more hands on.
- You can put the bowl in a double broiler with water about halfway up the bowl and boil for about an hour on the stovetop or until the center is firm. Just juggle the bowl a little and see how the center of the bowl reacts. I didn’t really like standing in front of the stove to monitor it.
- The next run, I tried it I just put the bowl in a warm water bath inside a baking pan, the water is still only about halfway up the bowl, in a 350 degree oven for an hour or until the center has firmed up. Same result, less fussing.
A useful trick I learned is to put a dishcloth in the bottom baking pan so the bowl doesn’t slide around in the water bath.
To serve I loosen the flan from the sides of the bowl and flip it onto a plate.
Beija mixing it up with all four ingredients
Here’s the opportunity for a nice burn. Notice the silicone hot pad to keep the bowl from sliding around.
And the finished product
2. Kymber’s Coconut Flan
Here’s the coconut, dairy-free version that I made up based on Amarylis’ recipe. It is really a completely different dessert and has a great Caribbean coconut flavor. This makes four ramekins.
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup powdered coconut milk
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (again, I like it a little less sweet, but if you don’t go for the full 1/2 cup)
- Same quick steps for mixing: in a smallish metal bowl, mix the wet ingredients, add the dry.
- To get all the lumps out I used my immersion blender.
- Because the texture is a little more delicate for the coconut version than the traditional version, I pour the mixture into ramekins and put them in a baking dish with a water bath about halfway up the sides of the ramekin. Bake for about an hour or until the centers are firm.
Don’t forget the dishcloth (I used silicone hot pads) in the bottom baking pan trick, so the ramekins don’t slide around in the water bath.
Beija has mad pouring skills
Now eat it.