Article by Sarah Ozimek
WHAT IS SPANISH EGG FLAN?
Flan is an egg custard that originates from Spain. It has a characteristic deep golden, caramel top and a caramel sauce that cascades down the sides of the pale and creamy custard. Now, there are many different types of egg custard, all around the world. But, it could be said that Spanish flan is where they all started.
THE HISTORY OF FLAN
Flan can be dated all the way back to Ancient Rome. The Romans were known for their creation of egg dishes, possibly because they were the first people to domesticate chickens for their eggs. In Rome, you would be able to find both sweet and savory (cheese, spinach, seafood) flans being enjoyed. As the recipe for flan spread across Europe, it took on new characteristics in each country. England created flan that was baked in a pastry shell or crust. In France, often chocolate was added to flan to become the pots de creme that we know today.
Caramelized sugar became a signature ingredient in Spanish flan. When the Moors occupied Spain, they brought the use of citrus and almonds to flan, and those flavorings are still common for Spanish flan today.
HOW TO MAKE SPANISH FLAN
The hardest part about making Spanish flan is getting the caramel topping just right. The impressive, golden crown that sits atop every well-made Spanish flan starts as caramelized sugar in the bottom of the flan dish. When you invert the dish after baking, the caramelized sugars release from the dish and give you the beautiful, characteristic top. Any time you work with sugar, you have to take some special care and attention. And, this case is no exception. The tricky part here is that as you heat your sugar, it gets very finicky about temperature changes. As you pour the golden caramelized sugar syrup from the hot pan into the cool molds, it hardens rapidly. So, we recommend that you have your molds set and ready. When your sugar starts to turn a golden brown, it will darken quickly, and you need to act fast to get your liquid caramel to coat the bottom of your cups before it turns into hard caramel candy.