Friday, February 8, 2013

Celebrate with Leche Flan

Leche Flan
With Chinese New Year (Feb 10) and Valentine's Day (Feb 14) just around the corner, there is a lot to celebrate in February! So why not ring in the Year of the Snake with your sweetheart by making leche flan, one of the most beloved Filipino desserts served during special occasions. 

In my family, the creamy and smooth leche flan topped with a syrupy caramel sauce is a staple at birthdays, Christmases, holidays and fiestas - the dining table wouldn't be complete without it! 

Leche flan comes from a large family of caramel custards that originated from the regions along the border of France and Spain and was brought to the Philippines during the Spanish colonization. 

Did you know: Leche flan is the Spanish term meaning "milk custard". 

The Filipino leche flan is a richer and sweeter version than the French's crème caramel because it's made with condensed milk and more egg yolks. Canned milk is used in most leche flan recipes because it doesn't spoil as quickly as fresh milk, especially when there wasn't refrigeration in tropical climates like in the Philippines. If you have easy access to fresh milk, use it because it'll be just as good!

Photo: MyCustardPie
Did you know: Despite its many names, caramel custards, crème caramel and flans, they're essentially all custard-based desserts prepared using the same ingredients - eggs, milk and sugar.

Traditionally, leche flan is steamed over an open flame or stove top using llaneras (oval-shaped metal baking pans) but with modern kitchens, baking works well too. However, to prevent overcooking in your oven, the lechen flan should be baked in a bain marie (boiling water bath) to encourage gentle and even cooking. Also, instead of using a large pan to make my leche flan, I prefer using individual 3" ramekins because they're easier to serve and store.

Yummy Leche Flan!!
Leche flan recipe only requires a handful of ingredients, however, this is one Filipino dessert that takes practice and patience to perfect.  The magic of making leche flan is in the proportions of eggs and milk, preparation of ingredients and cooking time. You're eating the perfect leche flan when the custard has a deep yellow colour topped with a golden brown syrup while the texture is soft and creamy. Also, when you slice through the flan, it should be firm but barely quiver like jello.

Did you know: Traditional leche flan is made with duck egg yolks and carabao's (water buffalo) milk because they produce a smoother and silkier texture.

The beautiful thing about leche flan is that it's delicious on its own as well as as an added accompaniment to other popular Filipino desserts like halo-halo (mixed iced dessert) or macapuno (young coconut).  On Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day or any celebration, leche flan is the perfect sweet ending to any festive feast. 


8 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup condensed milk
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup white sugar + 1 tbsp water
10" metal round pan or 5 to 6 ramekins (3")

Caramelize Sugar
1. Caramelize sugar: Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tbsp of water in your metal pan or ramekin and place over medium heat. Do not stir but move the pan around to ensure the sugar melts evenly and doesn't burn. When the sugar becomes thick and golden brown in colour 4-5 minutes, remove immediately from the stove top and pour caramelized sugar in pan or ramekins.

2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Mixed eggs, milks, lemon & vanilla extract
3. In a medium bowl, carefully mix in eggs, evaporated milk, condensed milk, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Do not over mix to prevent creating too many bubbles. Let rest for 20-30 minutes for mixture to become room temperature.
Leche Flan in Bain Marie
4.  Strain egg mixture for a smoother consistency then pour egg mixture into metal pan or ramekin moulds. Then place in a bain marie (roasting pan with 1" boiling water) and into the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes.
Leche Flan in Bain Marie in oven
5. Remove from oven and let leche flan cool down before placing it in the fridge for 2-3 hours. 
6. When leche flan is completely cooled, run a sharp knife around the edges of the mould. Then get a pan of hot water and let the leche flan pan rest gently on this water bath for 1 - 2 minutes so that the flan is cold but the bottom is warm to help with the un-moulding. Then transfer leche flan onto a plate by turning the mould upside down. Fingers crossed, the mould will come out clean! 
Serve chilled with whipped cream and with macapuno strings, enjoy;)


  1. 350 degrees C or F?

    1. It's 350 F, thanks for asking and trying the recipe;)

  2. I followed the recipe to a tee except that I strained the mixture into the molds for a smoother result. Also, the recipe mentions lemon juice but not vanilla, yet the latter is mentioned in the procedure. Typo error, maybe?

    1. Hi Irene, thanks for the comment and I did forget to mention the 1 tsp of vanilla in the ingredient list! Good catch on the typo. Also great idea about straining the mixture and will add that step to the procedure. Happy cooking.

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