Before making this flan, I had never ever used condensed and/or evaporated milk in any recipe. I did not even really know what they were all about. It was also yet another challenge to find what they mean in Finnish and where I can find them in Helsinki. Luckily, my friend Minni used condensed milk a few weeks earlier for the first when she was baking something so she showed me where I could find it (in K-market Kamppi, in the section where there are all sorts of Russian food). And for evaporated milk, I just cried for help on Facebook and interesting enough, a Turkish friend living in Espoo helped me out. So in case you do not know, you can find it in the little shop called Behnford’s on Keskuskatu 6 (next to Tetuan clothes shop in City Center. You can also find condensed milk in this shop but it is cheaper in K-market.
Then there was a whole another hassle about vanilla extract. That was another ingredient that I had never used. Actually, I bumped into that in a few recipes I checked before and I always thought, “what the hell..”, and used vanilla or even vanilla sugar instead. I could not be more wrong to do so, seeing what vanilla extract is, now I understand. But hey, I finally found it and it is extremely precious to me. Well, this is partially because one small bottle of it costs 13.50 euros!!! I find a little bit of comfort in the fact that I use very little of it in the recipes so I should be ok with this one bottle for a while.. Anyway, you can find vanilla extract in Ruohonjuuri and again in Behnford’s.
And here is the yummy recipe with my newly acquainted ingredients.
240 ml granulated white sugar
15 ml vanilla extract
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1. Preheat the oven to 175C.
2. First, let’s caramelise sugar. In order to do this, put sugar in a pan on medium heat. I started with heat degree 4 (out of 6) and after it warmed up for about 5 minutes, I increased the heat degree to 5. At first you do not need to stir all the time but after you increase the heat, you’d better stir it with a wooden spoon constantly. With the help of increased heat, it actually caramelises quite fast. When you have no granules left and the whole thing gets an amber colour, take it out of the heat. Immediately pour it in the baking dish you will use. It gets hard quite fast so be quick. When you pour all of it in the dish, make sure that the bottom of the dish is covered with caramel evenly. Here is also a few words about the baking dish: try to use a dish that is not very deep. If you use a rather deep dish, when you turn it upside down in the end it falls to the plate fast and you get some unwanted cracks. By the way, the dish that I used in this recipes is 24 cm in diameter.
3. In a separate bowl, put the eggs and whisk them for a few minutes until they are evenly mixed.
4. Add evaporated milk and whisk it again.
5. Add condensed milk and whisk more!
6. Add vanilla extract and whisk it even more, until you have an even mixture with all the ingredients. Pour the mixture in your dish. Drop the dish on the counter once or twice slowly to get rid of any air bubbles.
7. Put the dish inside another bigger dish (as you can see, I used a big glass dish). Boil some water and pour the boiled water in the bigger dish until. The water level should be about 2 cm deep. You will bake the flan like this in the oven and this is called water bath baking.
8. Bake the flan for about 60 minutes. Check the flan at the end of 50 or 60 minutes with the help of a knife. If your knife comes clean when you stick it inside the flan until midway, then your flan is ready. It might look still a bit liquid in the oven but it sets and gets harder slowly after you take it out of the oven so don’t worry.
9. Leave the flan in the dish to cool down for a while until it drops down to room temperature (at least 1 hour). When you are ready to turn it upside down, run a knife smoothly inside the edge of the baking dish so that it releases the flan easily. After that, cover the dish with your serving plate and turn it upside down. Tap the baking dish a little a few times and you will feel when flan is released from it. Then take it away and you will have your flan ready!
To decorate, you can put mint leaves or pomegranate seeds or both on it. You can leave it in the fridge for a while and serve it cold or you can serve it warmer without putting it in the fridge, it’s up to you.