Crème Caramel or Rich Flan

200px-Homemade_FlanBy Cat, Jan 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Crème caramel, or flan, is a wonderful custard dessert with a caramel sauce.  Caramel is sugar melted and cooked until it begins to turn golden, and then stirred with cream; in this case, the cream is provided by the custard. Because this dessert is quite sugary, I would not recommend eating it very often, and then in small half-cup servings.

The process of producing caramel is known as glycation (Links to Health & Disease section of my old site until I get it moved), and there is some evidence that consumption of glycated foods may hasten aging. Another reason not to eat this very often.

Crème Caramel Cups

This version is adapted from Good Housekeeping magazine.  The original recipe is a low-fat version, using 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites, and low-fat milk.  But the fat in the whole eggs and whole milk or cream helps slow down the absorption of the sugar in the caramel and thus curb blood sugar spiking.

This recipe uses custard cups, but you could also make it in a single baking dish. Makes eight 6-oz servings.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Caramel
  • ⅔  cup Rapadura, Sucanat or Turbinado sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  • Custard
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup sugar (Alternately, ⅛ tsp stevia extract powder, or¾ tsp dark liquid stevia extract)
  • 3 cups whole milk, or mix of milk and light cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Equipment
  • heavy saucepan or skillet (for caramel)
  • medium bowl
  • 8 ea 6-oz custard cups or ramekins, or 9″ deep-dish pie pan
  • rubber spatula
  • 4-quart saucepan or stockpot
  • large roasting pan or cake pan


See also: Crème Caramel or Flan (About) for detailed method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Heat 4-quart saucepan of water to boiling, for later use as water bath.
  2. Caramel: In heavy saucepan or skillet, heat ⅔ cup sugar with 2 Tbsp cold water on medium until melted and a light caramel color, swirling pan occasionally. Immediately pour carmel into custard cups/ramekins, or pie pan.
  3. Custard: Beat eggs and sweetener in a medium bowl using wire whisk (I like to use a bowl with a lip, for ease in pouring the custard into the cups).  Beat in milk/cream and vanilla.
  4. Pour custard into the custard cups or pie pan, over the caramel.
  5. Place cups/pie pan in large roasting or cake pan; pour boiling water in pan (not into the cups) until it comes halfway up sides of cups.
  6. Bake 40 minutes or until center of custard is set (a knife inserted into the center comes out clean).  Remove cups/pie pan from water bath; cool on wire rack.  Cover each cup/pie pan and refrigerate 4 hours or until custard is well chilled.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions

  • Carefully loosen custard from sides of the cups/pie pan, using a small spatula.  Invert each individual creme caramel onto a dessert plate (or pie pan onto serving plate), tapping cups/pie pan to help release custard.  Leave inverted cup/pan on plate for several minutes to allow caramel syrup to drip onto custard.
  • Garnish each serving with a few raspberries or blackberries and a small dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Rich Flan

This recipe is adapted from an October 2007 article in my local newspaper, the Daily InterLake, who picked it up from the Los Angeles Times.  It includes both egg yolks and whole eggs, and both milk and cream.

I include two different sizes; the original serves 9 – 12; the smaller version serves 6 – 8.

Ingredients (original size, serves 9 – 12):

Ingredients (smaller size, serves 6 – 8):

  • Caramel
  • ½ cup Rapadura or Sucanat sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp cold water (optional)
  • Custard
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup Rapadura sugar or xylitol; alternately use 2 tsp maple syrup plus 1 tsp dark liquid stevia extract (or shy ¼ teaspoon powdered stevia extract)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs

Equipment (both sizes)

  • heavy-bottomed or cast iron skillet
  • Original size recipe: 2-quart round glass or ceramic baking dish (such as a souffle dish)
  • Smaller size recipe:  smaller baking dish, such as a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish, deep-dish glass pie pan, or round cake pan can be used.
  • kitchen mallet, or mortar and pestle
  • medium saucepan
  • large bowl
  • egg whisk
  • cake or roasting pan for water bath, into which you can fit the glass or ceramic baking dish
  • knife

Method (both sizes):

  1. Caramel: Caramelize sugar in skillet over medium heat, tilting the pan so that the sugar melts evenly, until an amber color, 5 – 6 minutes.  Pour into baking dish, tilting to coat the bottom evenly.  Allow to cool.
  2. Custard: Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Whisk yolks, whole eggs, and sweetener(s) in large bowl, then whisk in milk and cream.
  4. Pour into caramel-lined baking dish, and place the dish in a hot-water bath (use a roasting or cake pan for the bath.
  5. Carefully put this into the oven; bake until custard is set and the center has a slight juggle, about 60 – 70 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool, then cover and chill overnight.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions

  • Loosen sides of the flan with the tip of a knife or a small spatula.  Dip the baking dish into a pan of hot water to loosen the bottom, then invert flan onto a large serving plate.
  • Garnish with a few raspberries or blackberries and a small dollop of fresh whipped cream


  1. Good Housekeeping magazine, January 2008 (
  2. Daily Inter Lake newspaper, October 31, 2007 (from LA Times:

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