Call it flan or creme caramel, we've enjoyed this classic Latin dessert in Spain, Mexico and Central America.
I decided to try my hand at making flan when searching for a Mexican dessert for a Holiday party. All of the guests enjoyed the creamy, caramel-topped custard, but I swore that it was too fussy a recipe to make again. The caramel layer (my favorite part) was intimidating to produce, the traditional recipes were all for individual servings (and I was serving 20!) and the water-bath baking process took 1 ½ hours of monitoring.
Check out my Instant Pot flan video!
Instant Pot Experiments
It took seven batches of flan before I finally had this recipe for Light Flan dialed in for the Instant Pot. Fat-free Sweetened Condensed Milk and low-fat milk help to lighten the traditional recipe. Don't worry about the ½ cup sugar for the caramel because half of the sauce will remain in the pan once the flan is unmolded onto the serving platter. I tried a solution for this problem from Cooks Illustrated - add water to the hot sugar mixture to loosen it up. It didn't work and the added water made the syrup splatter dangerously. Don't worry, you'll still have plenty of caramel syrup to cover the flan, so make sure that your serving dish has a rim to contain it all.
Pantry Ingredients, Fast Preparation
Whether I'm on a sailboat or in my mountain kitchen, I appreciate recipes that rely on ingredients I always have in my pantry. The one ingredient that might trip people up is Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk, so stock up next time you shop. It's shelf stable and you'll also need it for Light Key Lime Pie!
I enjoyed adapting this recipe for my new electric pressure cooker. It turns out that pressure cooking provides the same even temperatures to the custard as baking it in a water-bath in the oven...only it cooks twice as fast. I have also provided instructions for stove top pressure cookers and the traditional oven method if you haven't joined the Instant Pot gang yet.
Leave a comment if you try this recipe or have an Instant Pot. I'd love to hear about your experiences!
Light Flan (Instant Pot version)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 3 large eggs
- 1 14 ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
- 1 ½ cup low-fat milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6- quart electric pressure cooker Instant Pot or stove top pressure cooker
- 2- quart soufflé dish or any oven-proof 4-inch deep dish that will fit inside your pressure cooker
- Stir together the sugar and ¼ cup water in a medium sauce pan. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil (2 minutes.) Continue to cook without stirring until the bubbling sauce starts to turn caramel colored (4-6 minutes).
- Pour the amber syrup into a 2-quart soufflé dish, swirling the mixture until it has covered the bottom and up the side of the dish.
- In a medium bowl whisk the milks, eggs, vanilla and salt until combined. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer directly into the prepared soufflé dish, using the back of spoon to force remaining egg through the strainer. This will ensure that the texture of your flan is smooth, creamy and without unincorporated bits of yolks and whites.
- Prepare the electric pressure cooker by placing the trivet in the bottom of the cooker, and then pour 1 cup of water in the bottom.
- Cover the filled soufflé dish with foil and lower into the trivet. Close the lid and lid vent, and then set the cooker for 12 minutes at high pressure. Allow the cooker to naturally release (for 15 minutes), then remove the flan from the cooker.
- Once the flan has to come to room temperature, chill overnight or at least 4 hours.
- To serve, run a sharp knife along the edge of the flan to release it from the dish. Cover the flan with an inverted serving dish, then flip the soufflé dish over and allow the flan to slide onto the dish.
- Stove top pressure cooker version: bring to high pressure for 8 minutes then use a natural release (about 15 minutes)
- Original oven version: Place the covered flan dish in a larger baking pan and fill the pan with boiling water until it surrounds the flan dish 1-2 inches deep. Bake for 75 minutes at 325 °F until the custard is set, but still jiggly in the center.
- This light flan recipe has been adapted for the Instant Pot from a Classic Flan recipe in EatingWell magazine. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/258033/classic-flan/print/
- Be careful when making the syrup. It is much hotter than boiling water and can easily splatter and stick to skin causing a serious burn.