Flan de Abuelita

Country: Europe, Asia, Latin america, North America

Story: Nearly every part of the world has a version of flan. The earliest version of flan was more of a savory dish in the roman culture. The ability to make the dish ahead of time and keep until needed is most likely a good reason why it became so popular. Also, many cultures have sugar, eggs and milk readily available.

There are so many varieties of flan that it would take pages to get through all of the differences. In an effort to keep things simple we can just say that Costa Rica is one of the countries where you also find coconut milk in the base recipe. Also, like so many other countries, a caramel is made and poured at the bottom of the container that flan will be cooked in. The milk mixture is added and then all of the containers are put in a Bain-Marie. After the flan is cooked, the container is turned upside down onto a plate to serve and the caramel which was cooked on the bottom becomes the top giving the flan its very famous dark brown color.

The Bain-Marie traditionally is a wide and usually metal container that holds hot water. Then, a smaller container that fits inside the outer one which holds the material to be cooked is placed inside. Typically, the inner (smaller) container is immersed about halfway into the hot water. When the water and the bain-marie is used the maximum temperature of the water in the lower container will not exceed 100 degrees Celsius (212 °F), the boiling point of water as long as there is a cover on top to catch the steam. Because the temperature can not exceed 100 degrees Celsius it is a very secure and gentle way to cook certain foods, especially custards that use eggs that get scrambled with high heat.

Preparation: A caramel is poured into a container that will cook the flan and left to set and get hard. The milk mixture is then poured on top and the container holding the caramel and flan mix is placed into a Bain-Marie filled with water. The flan is cooked until barley sets and then removed to cool. Once ready, the flan is turned onto a plate and garnished with toasted coconut.