Cheese flan is probably Puerto Rico's most popular dessert. We know that flan did not originate in Puerto Rico, but we have truly adopted this one and made it our own. The addition of cream cheese creates such a delicious combination of a creamy caramel custard. Now beware - you won't be able to have just one slice of this one!
1 cup sugar
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
6 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
The first step in making flan is to prepare the caramel. Add the sugar in an even layer to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Let it sit for a couple of minutes until the sugar at the bottom starts melting. Some people like to add a bit of water to the sugar as they prepare the caramel, but I make my caramel with only sugar. I find that using just sugar is easier and faster.
Once the sugar at the bottom starts melting, stir it with a heat-resistant spatula, making sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom. Repeating this process continuously.
After a couple of minutes, the sugar may clump up and form hard, rock-like chunks. Don’t worry, all the sugar will eventually melt. You may want to press down on the larger clumps to break them down faster.
Continue stirring constantly, until the caramel is an even golden brown, it usually takes me 4 to 5 minutes.
While still hot, pour the caramel into a deep 10-inch tube pan. Hold the pan with oven mitts - it’s going to get really hot - and tilt the pan from side to side, until the caramel coats all sides of the pan, reaching approximately 1 inch up the sides.
We decided to use a tube pan because it cooks faster. Also, when selecting your baking pan keep in mind that the pan will need to fit inside a tall baking tray while we bake it, as you will see later in the video.
Once you finish preparing your pan, set it aside to cool.
While you wait for this to cool, go ahead and prepare the flan mixture. I like to use a blender for this step, if you don’t have one, you could use a food processor or hand mixer. Start by adding the cream cheese, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk to the blender and blend until smooth. This will take approximately 2 minutes. You want to make sure that the cream cheese is well incorporated and there are no clumps to ensure a smooth finish to your flan.
Once the mixture is smooth, add the eggs, milk and vanilla to the blender. You want to add these ingredients, particularly the eggs, after you have blended in the cream cheese, in order to minimize the time you are beating the eggs. As you beat the eggs, the egg-white proteins will uncurl and trap air in your mixture, taking away from the dense, rich texture you want. Blend your mixture until just incorporated, approximately 15 seconds.
Now you are ready to bake the flan. Turn your oven on to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, pour the mixture into the tube pan. You may hear some cracking noises as you are pouring the mixture in, this is completely normal. It is just the cold mixture reacting with the warm caramel.
As with most custards, we need to bake our flan in a bain marie, which is just a fancy name for a pan, filled with water. The water serves to insulate the flan, ensuring that it doesn’t get too hot, which could cause the eggs to curdle.
To set up your bain marie, also known as a “water bath,” place a large, deep baking pan into the oven. The pan should be large enough to fit the tube pan and also tall enough to cover at least half of the tube pan.
Start by adding hot water to the baking pan, until the water is about ¼ of the way up the side. I like to use the hottest water from my tap.
Then, place the tube pan inside the baking pan. Add more water to the baking pan until the water level is about half-way up the side of the tube pan. Be really careful when adding the water making sure not to splash any water into the flan.
Bake for 90 minutes or until the top of the flan looks firm and it softly jiggles in the middle when shaken.
Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Once it reaches room temperature, place it in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
To unmold, run a knife along all the edges of the tube pan, including the middle. I’ve used a butter knife but you can use any knife that you like.
Lightly shake the mold to make sure that the flan is loose.
Next, grab your serving tray. The tray should be at least an inch larger than the tube pan. Put the tray container on top of the baking mold and flip the flan onto the tray. If the flan is still stuck to the pan, gently knock on the bottom of the tube pan. If your flan is still stuck, try dipping the bottom of your tube pan in hot water for 20-30 seconds, loosening up some of the caramel.
Pour any caramel remaining in the mold on top of the flan.
And there you go! Now you are ready to try your flan. This dessert is very rich and decadent and small pieces can go a long way. This recipe will serve between 12-16 but I would totally understand if you don’t want to share. I wouldn’t want to either.
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.