Flan is a European and Latin dessert made up of a caramel topping and custard base that's made with milk, eggs and sweetener (which may already be included in the milk). It is usually baked in a water bath for the best texture, and after baking it is chilled then later inverted onto a platter.
Flan can refer to two different things: either a baked custard dessert topped with caramel similar to the French crème caramel, or a tart-like sweet pastry with a filling called a fruit flan.
Leche flan is a creamy steamed Filipino custard topped with a layer of caramel. Leche flan is a creamy steamed Filipino custard topped with a layer of caramel. This recipe requires a wire-rack steamer. While similar to Spanish or Mexican flan, Filipino leche flan is often firmer, as it's made with more egg yolks.
The name leche flan is translated into “milk custard,” and is often much richer than Spanish flan because it includes more egg yolks, condensed milk, and is steamed. Since there is an addition of milk, it's texture is much more jiggly and pudding-like than French flan.
Unlike the leche flan where both kinds of milk are shelf-stable canned ingredients, fresh ingredients are the common ingredients used for these two versions. It creates an egg custard that is not quite as eggy in taste and not as creamy but still soft, silky, and delicious nonetheless.
In Spanish-speaking countries and often in the United States, crème caramel is known as flan. This was originally a Spanish-language usage, but the dish is now best known in North America in a Latin American context.
Leche flan is perfect by itself, but it can be served in many other ways. It is a popular topping for iced desserts in the Philippines like maiz con hielo and halo-halo. It is one of the most popular desserts served at parties, fiestas, and other special occasions.
Flan's history dates back to ancient Rome. See, the Romans were the first known civilization to domesticate chickens for farming purposes. With an abundance of eggs at their disposal, they began creating dishes that featured the edible egg as its main ingredient. Hence the birth of flan.
Flan originated in Rome as a savory dish. It was usually served alongside meat or fish. But when a chef added honey to create a sweet version, the dish exploded in popularity, and cultures worldwide took notice. The Spanish adopted the recipe and added their own twist.
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