Flan is a baked custard with caramel. This is an easy and delicious dessert, especially good served after southwestern meals. It can be made 2 days in advance. To keep it easier, store-bought caramel sauce may be used in place of caramelizing the sugar. Pour a layer of caramel on the bottom of the pan before adding the custard.

The first time I made this I was making a meal for a large group and was very busy. I had not cooked sugar before and, somehow, some of the hot sugar got on my fingers. My sink is much too far from the stove, which is terrible when you have burning hot sugar stuck on your fingers. It was one of my most painful burns. (I have had worse burns but those were painless.) I was in the middle of so much food preparation that I had to keep working. I kept putting cold sour cream on the burns to try to endure the pain while cooking. That experience caused me to wait a long time before trying to caramelize sugar again. But, I have succeeded since then. Hence, the knowledge that a simple caramel sauce will work.

This recipe comes from Marcia Adams’ Heirloom Recipes. It serves 12.


  • 1 quart (4 cups) half-and-half
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • speck of cream of tartar
  • 9 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • speck of salt

Scald the half-and-half in a saucepan until bubbles form around the edges, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place 1 cup sugar, the water, and cream of tartar in a heavy skillet and cook over medium heat for 15 to 25 minutes. It should turn a rich, golden brown, like tea. Watch carefully so it does not turn too dark. Immediately pour into a large 12 x 6 x 3- inch loaf pan, spreading evenly over the bottom. Place the pan in the refrigerator to harden the caramel, about 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs just until frothy. Add the scalded half-and-half, the remaining 1 cup sugar, liqueur, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. On low speed, blend well without allowing bubbles to form. Pour the custard into the loaf pan over the hardened caramel. Set the loaf pan into a pan of hot water (the water should come about halfway up the sides of the loaf pan) and bake for 75 minutes in a preheated 350° F. oven.

Remove the flan from the hot water bath and allow to cool. Chill overnight or up to 2 days. To serve, loosen the edges of the flan with a knife and invert onto a lipped tray. Cut into 12 slices and spoon some caramel over each serving.

Southwest Flan

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