Minimalist Flan

Once I was strapped and tasked with producing a dessert. This was my answer: a minimalist flan or caramel custard.  This needs only three ingredients and a heat proof dish (if you d not have a fancy mould accessible) and can be steamed or baked in a bain marie.  And the taste is exquisite!

It is possible to use agar agar powder or blocks instead of the eggs. But the texture is a little different– ever so lightly al dente.  On the other hand,  the eggs give a smooth creamy texture. It is a matter of personal preference as to what to use.

caramel custard
Special tools:

Heat proof  mould


  • 2 cups (1/2 liter) whole milk
  • 5 tbsp sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar for the caramel


Dissolve the sugar in warm milk.  Gradually add little milk at a time to the eggs. When well mixed (but not beaten; since you dont want to include air that could form bubbles), gradually and mix in the rest of the milk.

Spread the sugar at the bottom of the heatproof dish. Turn on the stove and carefully melt/caramelize the sugar till it is brown, but not burnt. Evenly spread the sugar at the bottom using a pair of tongs. Pour the milk-egg mixture. In a large pan bring about 2 cups water to a simmer. Place the flan dish in the water bath and steam for 45 minutes.

Let Let cool for 2-3 hours, if not overnight, before unmoulding. To unmould the flan, run a knife along the sides of the dish and dip in the bottom of the pan in warm water. Place a large plate on top and turn it over so that the flan gently flops down with the caramel on top.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. If you use agar agar instead of eggs, please follow the instructions on the packet.
  2. Instead of steaming, you could bake in a bain marie, at 325F  for 45 -60 minutes or until the flan is done.
  3. If you make the flan in single portion moulds, you will have to pour the caramel into individual moulds. It also will cook faster than the single mould.

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