People tell me my Leche Flan is the shit. People that don’t really eat Leche Flan when it’s put out, eat mine. The reason for this is because I give a shit. Leche Flan is dumb easy to make, but like any food preparation, it’s the giving a shit part that is key.
Leche Flan is a version of custard from The Philippines. The Portuguese kinda have the same thing, but it’s not quite as good. Mostly because the Filipino version is rich as fuck and super bad for you. I guess you can go and make a Leche Flan *Lite*, but that’s not giving a shit. Well, it’s giving a shit in the wrong places. It’s fine to care about your health. But good food, truly good food, should be a little like love in the way that it kills you a little when you let it.
So why Leche Flan though? When I decided one day to make Leche Flan it was because my Mother makes it. Then I figured I was good at it. So I got better. But the other reason is what my homey, Polangco would call the “Close-eye-factor.”
I kinda live for the Close-eye-factor.
A good spoonful of Leche Flan is sexual. The way I like to do it is to take a spoonful and turn the spoon upside-down as I put it in my mouth. Once I feel the cold of the flan, I tauten my tongue so it’s tip cuts through the velvet texture and grazes the surface of the spoon. If you’re really good you can peel back the layers, leaving smooth round mounds of flan on the spoon- then hit it again.
When I pull the spoon away slowly and the flan is sitting on the surface of my tongue, I tighten my lips and suck the last bits of air out. This spreads the flan through the roof of the mouth, the cheeks, and the back of the tongue. Though it’s cold, you’ll feel a warmth down to your belly, thus creating the proper conditions for the Close-eye-factor.
As much as there’s an art to cooking, there’s an art to eating. And I’m an aight cook, but I’m mostly primo eater.
Again, Leche Flan is dumb easy to make.
Some kind of MOLDs. Those flat round Brazillian corned beef cans, might work well. But you can grab perfect aluminum molds from TAP PHONG on Spadina ($2.35). They got everything. For this recipe, 3 of those molds is good. All mixed, this recipe will come up to around 6 cups.
A baking pan. Like the kind you’d make Lasagna in.
- 1 can of Evaporated Milk
- 1 can of Condensed Milk
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
for the caramel:
- 1 cup of Demerara or Muscavado or whatever dark, moist sugar
- 1 Starbuck’s VIA packet (or whatever instant coffee or actual coffee)
- 3/4 cup water
Preheat your oven to 375. Segregate your yolks from the whites. (Keep your whites in a yogurt container and use them for something later. Tolerance.)
Bring your sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the VIA packet and let it simmer out until the sugar caramelizes and the solution thickens. You don’t have to add the coffee, but the coffee and dark sugar are what make mine different. Dark is sexy. Pour the caramel into the bottom of the molds. It’s a good idea to do this right away to allow the caramel to cool into the mold. It’ll make all the difference with the presentation (close-eye-factor).
Pour your yolks, the vanilla, the evaporated milk, and the condensed milk into a mixing bowl and beat the shit out of it BY HAND. I like to beat the yolks out a bit before adding the rest. Some recipes might say you can use a blender, but I think that makes the Leche Flan runny. I hold suspect anyone that doesn’t derive pleasure from beating things. So beat it by hand and think about the Close-eye-factor the whole time.
If you feel fancy, this is a good time to experiment and add flavor. Traditional Leche Flan doesn’t call for it, there’s already enough flavor there with the vanilla. But it’s fun to try things. One time using three molds, I put a shot of Canadian Club Rye Whiskey in one; a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream in another; and a couple leaves of basil in another. Sometimes I put dark chocolate chips or shave dark chocolate into it.
When the mixture is proper beat, carefully pour it into the molds and add it to the caramel. You are pouring too fast when you see too much caramel rising to the top as you pour. It’ll happen anyway, but it will happen less if you let the caramel cool first.
Boil water and pour it into the baking pan.
Cover the molds with aluminum foil and place them in the water in the baking pan.
Put it all into the oven and let it bake for 45 minutes. If you’re not sure it’s done take one mold and stab it with a knife and slip it back out. If the knife is not runny, the Leche Flan is done.
Let the molds cool and when they’re near room temperature place them in the fridge for at least an hour. This is also optional, but I think it’s better cold.
If you are taking them somewhere it’s best to leave them in the molds. It’s easier to travel that way.
When you’re ready to serve, use plates with a deep indent and high walls for the flan to sit in the caramel. Run a knife around the edges of the mold to loosen the flan. Stick the open end of the mold flush to your plate and turn it over. Tap it or shake it if it doesn’t slip right out. Try to not to totally destroy your mold. You took the extra give a shit to achieve that gleaming dark top surface.
(After Edit: On Thanksgiving my Mom served still in the mold and not turned over. I fucking lost it. DON’T DO THAT!)
Now do what you wish with that.