I made this leche flan from my friend Sol Cruz‘s recipe. Sol is one of those cooks who have a natural knack for whipping up great food without the aid of a recipe. She’s also too modest to trumpet her talent that I had to practically drag this leche flan recipe out of her bit by excruciating bit. So, because she won’t write down the recipe, I’m going to write it down for her.
First of all, let me tell you how Sol and I met. It was at a Parent and Teacher Information Night in 2009. Our youngest sons were in the same class at primary school. From afar, I immediately recognized her as someone who used to teach at Mapua Institute of Technology where I went to college. She was one of those instructors who went straight into teaching after obtaining their Bachelor of Science degree. But because she taught Electrical Engineering subjects – I studied Computer Engineering – I was not lucky enough to become her student. As a young and attractive female Electrical Engineering instructor, students of the opposite sex counted themselves lucky when they ended up in one of Sol’s classes.
Fast-forward 18 years to 2009 and there we were running into each other at that info night, but this time as mums. We exchanged knowing smiles that conveyed the acknowledgment that we both were Pinays. I’m sure a lot of Pinays overseas have been in a similar situation and are familiar with the protocol. I mustered enough courage to sit beside Sol and whisper in her ear, quite brazenly I thought. “Was your maiden name Cureg?” Sol beamed with delight, “Yes, don’t tell me naging estudyante kita?” Straightaway there was rapport between us. The friendship started to bloom soon after.
Relationships with my female friends usually develop in a slow and measured manner. But with Sol, it was fast and firm. It was like I’ve found a sister in her.
Now let’s talk about leche flan. Leche flan is one of those dishes that I love to eat but will never attempt to make. I was just plain intimidated by it. I didn’t even want to know how it’s done. Personally, I prefer no-brainer dishes. To my mind, leche flan was like rocket science.
But when Sol brought leche flan to one of our get-togethers, I couldn’t resist being curious. One tiny spoonful later and I was hooked. It was that good! I jokingly asked Sol for the recipe. Her reply? “Madali lang yan!” I was skeptical. I consider Sol’s work at a Sydney power company to be akin to black magic – esoteric and nerdy. So I expected that everything else she did would be technical too, like the leche flan, for example. So letting go of my reservations, I challenged her, “Sige nga, paano?”
And here it is. The recipe turned out to be a no-brainer after all, just how I wanted my dishes to be. The magic is revealed and it turns out there is none. All one needs is a healthy dose of curiosity. A son who has a hankering for leche flan helps too.
- 6-8 tbsp white sugar
- 10 egg yolks
- 395 gm tin condensed milk
- 375 ml tin evaporated milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional
- 2 liters boiling water, for steaming
How to Cook Leche Flan
Make caramel by melting the sugar in a small non-stick pan over low heat. Move the pan in a circular motion as the sugar melts to stop it from burning and to mix the caramel with the unmelted sugar granules. The caramel is ready when it becomes clear and has turned a deep golden brown. Pour the caramel into a round non-stick baking pan 20 cm across and at least 4 cm deep. Allow the caramel to coat the bottom of the pan. Set aside to cool and harden. Don’t panic when the caramel pops like small firecrackers as it hardens.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract together until smooth to make the leche flan mixture. Pour the mixture into the baking pan containing the hardened caramel. Cover tightly with a sheet of aluminium foil and cook in a covered steamer for about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the steamer’s water level and replenish with boiling water as required.
To check if the leche flan is done, uncover the pan carefully about halfway, take a clean toothpick and stick it in the middle of the flan. Take the toothpick out and wipe it on the end of your finger. If no residue is left then the leche flan is done. Remove the baking pan from the steamer and allow it to cool.
To serve, work a small knife around the pan’s edge, take a large round plate, cover the pan with it and in one smooth motion invert the leche flan onto the plate. Enjoy!