Remembering Your First Flan

Flan Cubano de Goya

Vanessa's Flan Cubano

A Latina Never Forgets…her First Flan

It could be argued, I did not fully embrace my Cuban-American identity until I made my first flan.

I was around 28, un poco vieja for a Cuban kid from Miami to be making a first flan. Pero, I had been afraid of failing. It looked so hard to make…and so easy to just buy.

Pero, in Nashville, back then, I couldn’t just buy flan. Plus, it was a shame that my gringo husband made an awesome flan.

Que pena!

And so, I dove in.

The hardest part was making the caramel. I failed so often. For reasons still unknown to me, the sugar and water combo failed to caramelize. I stood at my stove stirring and stirring and stirring and all I usually got was a bubbling, clear liquid so hot I feared losing skin if I touched it.

Or, the caramel burned.

Que peste!

I don’t stir it much anymore and at last, I know just when to remove it from the stove.

But, for years, I faked caramel by layering brown sugar in the pan before pouring in the egg and milks mixture. A cheat taught to me by Oscar, my genius partner at Los Pollitos Dicen.

Those first flans were made with fear, but they were delicious, even if they were not truly authentic. Now, around here, I am famous for my traditional Cuban flan. Oh yes, I am.

Do You Remember Your First Flan?

I asked other Latina friends about their first flans, and got a fabulous variety of answers, plus some recipes to make awesome desserts.

So, grab a cafecito because, aqui vamos.

My First Flan

Flan y Cubanas. We go together like el gordo and cake. My childhood was no different, especially during the holidays. We’d feast, talk and when it was time for desert, an elderly women would retreat to the kitchen and emerge with the most glorious vision to be seen: flan! That golden custard, smooth as a baby’s bottom and without even a single crack, was the evening’s trophy. But how were these mysterious creations made? From what I can tell, you just opened the frig and there they were! There was no slaving over the stove top, chopping countless ingredients. So, this year, when it was time to host my very first Noche Buena, I decided to figure out the mystery. I finally made my first flan.

Even if I did cheat with a box of Goya, I was proud to be Cubana while watching my family devour the rookie flan. But the creme de la crepe came when that wiggly little thing successfully plopped itself, in one piece, onto the serving platter. What a glorious feeling!

As I whispered to all my Cuban ancestors, delicately tapping the bottom of my baking dish, I held my breathe as I revealed one solid piece of custard. I am officially a bonafide Cubana!

Flan y Cubanas and me. We just go together.

Vanessa of De Su Mama

I Only Eat My Own Flan

“I never liked Flan until I made it myself. OMG! It’s so good. But I only eat it when I make it because I find that many people make it to “eggy” or to “Jello-y.” Does that make sense? I posted my first & only Flan recipe back in 2009. It’s rich and creamy.

Lisa Perez of New York Chica

Once Fearful of Burning the Sugar

I was always afraid to make flan because I would burn the sugar or not get it right at all… till Daisy Martinez showed me. I was so afraid when I tried it at home by myself for Thanksgiving in 2011 but I got it right! I was SO proud of myself. My family nom nom’d it all up.

Rachel White of Digital Latina.

Caramel on the Floor

The first time I made Roxana´s MIL flan de queso it came out perfect. The second time I was a bit too confident and the caramel-making process became a disaster. I have no idea what I did, but all I remember is it all fell onto my kitchen floor and I spent the next hours scraping caramel off the floor!

Ana Flores of Spanglish Baby

Flan is Good for the Ego

I made my first flan at 10 or 11-years-old. I thought it was dead easy because all the ingredients went into the blender and then into the baking pan.
My mother helped with the caramel and the water bath, though, and the flan was a huge success. From that day on, I am convinced that everything I cook is a hit…lol… It was good for my young ego.

Morena Cuadra of Peru Delights

Gave Up On First Flan

My first flan was Christmas Eve 2001. I remember it clearly because the whole evening was a disaster. The water bath was too high and started boiling and spilling all over the oven. When I tried to pull it out of the oven I burned myself. I ended up leaving the flan on the stove – I gave up on it, because we were late for the late night Christmas Eve church service.

We arrived at church, only to have my younger son, (then not even 2-months-old), projectile vomit all over the row of nicely dressed people in front of us during the very beautiful candlelight service. We left early, obviously, but the baby continued to get sick all over the car and wouldn’t stop.

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the hospital. (My parents picked up our older son and took him to their house. He cried, worried Santa wouldn’t know where to bring his gifts.) The baby was okay in the end – a healthy 10-year-old today, but because of everything that transpired that evening, I’ll never forget my first flan.

Tracy López of Latinaish

Cheater’s Flan

My First Flan was courtesy of my lying, cheating boyfriend at Yale. Called Cheater’s Flan. The relationship didn’t last but the flan did and over the years, I baked the cheater out of it, making it my signature dish!

Viviana of The Wise Latina Club

Sometimes, You Use Box Flan

I think I used the Goya box too – maybe? But there were eggs, something about whisking, and I burned the sugar… I don’t even remember. Then there was some upsidedown-ness I had to do… gosh it was like 100 years ago. It was during my dessert-phase.

Li of Her Deep Thoughts

Maybe It’s Photoshop?

I recently made my first flan (intento de quesillo) and though it came out looking good – caramel making was a disaster. When I told my 80-year-old grandmother about it she laughed. I showed her a picture and told her “But look how good it came out!” she said: “That’s probably photoshop!” PLOP!

Helena of Pink Guayoyo

First Flan: What’s the Worst that Can Happen?


To be honest I had never even made a flan before and always left the flan making to my sister. But being that I had some pumpkin puree leftover I figured why not. It’s only a few ingredients and what’s the worst that can happen?

Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack of Muy Bueno Cookbook on her Tres Leches Pumpkin Flan



Share, por favor!

By Carrie on January 28, 2012 · Posted in food, headline

29 Comments | Post Comment

Helena says:

Hola Carrie! Mi Abuela is now famous :) She is going to be super happy to be on the TikiTiki. Gracias y un abrazote.

Posted on January 28th, 2012

Raul Ramos y Sanchez says:

As a life-long devotee of flan rather than creator of this delicacy, I propose “flan” replace “ambrosia” as the food of the gods.

Posted on January 28th, 2012

Vanessa, DeSuMama says:

Haha! How did I miss this yesterday? What a great post, Carrie! You were 28 making your first flan? Makes me feel better being… oh…. 21 and making my first flan. I am 21, right?

Posted on January 29th, 2012

Lisa says:

I LOVE, LOVE this post! And what an honor to be featured here among the other wonderful Latinas! Flan is a dessert that takes skill bc not everyone can make a decent one, as we can see. ;)

Posted on January 29th, 2012

perudelights says:

I love this post, and I´m having a great time reading it. Thanks for posting my “early” flan experience.

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Mama says:

Tracy ( and Tiki asked me to share a story. There’s a reason I don’t have a ‘My flan story’. I refuse to make one. I won’t do it. Why? Well once upon a time…

One of my favorite foods from Puerto Rico is a sorullitos. It is cornmeal with cheese/sugar rolled & fried. So good. My husband also loves these. One day I decided I would surprise him and make them for him. I got out all 3 of my Puerto Rican cookbooks. 2 in Spanish. 1 in English. I compared all 3 and they all had more or less the same exact recipe. I went out, bought all of the ingredients, and proceeded to make sorullitos.

I finished them and tasted one and thought, “hmm… not quite like Puerto Rico but not bad for my first time.” My husband got home. I proudly showed him my surprise. He seemed skeptical. He picked one up, ate it, and said, “What the $&(# are these? They taste horrible!” and threw them in the trash. Needless to say I was pissed. He then asked why I hadn’t called his sister to ask for the recipe. I explained that I looked at all of our cookbooks – shouldn’t they have the right recipe? I mean – we bought them in Puerto Rico.

Since then, I have refused to make sorullitos again. I know how now. His sister showed me. I could make them easily if I wanted. But I won’t because of his attitude. If that was his response to just simple sorullos what would it be towards flan? His sister’s is amazing. I’m sure she’d show me next time she visits. I just don’t think I’m going to bother.

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Yvette ~ Muy Bueno says:

So funny to read some these stories! I call mine beginners luck! So happy mine worked out but believe me I was so scared to flip that thing over, but trying so hard to maintain my cool with two friends watching me. Luckily my flan recipe has been a success over and over. Thank goodness!

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Patty @ A Day in My NYC says:

Such interesting stories! First off I am a Latina that doesn’t eat flan {don’t kick me out of the club}. I’ve tasted it and it’s not for me. BUT to my defense I’ve always had it from the Goya box…obviously that isn’t the only way so maybe I’ve never tasted a “real one”! I’ll have to have someone make me a real one to decide!

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ says:

LOVE all these stories…. Cuban and flan are one…. well, yes of course! It only makes sense… I say, if you don’t know how to make black beans and flan, what kind of Cuban are you anyway! ;)

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Sujeiry says:

I’ve never made my own flan. I’m actually not a fan of it! It’s a bit too sweet for me (caramel isn’t my sweet of choice). My mom attempted it during Thanksgiving. It was a fail lol.

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Tracy says:

LOL – Glad you came and shared your flan story so I could read it! jijiji … I don’t think Carlos has ever told me any of my attempts were horrible but we’ve had similar moments where he was like, “This isn’t how they’re supposed to taste” – which is the nice version of what you went through ;)

Posted on January 30th, 2012

vianney says:

Great stories!! My first flan was for a HUGE party for my hubby I babied the hell out of it and lucky me it turned out great!!
vianney´s last [fabulousness] ..Chipotle-Honey Chorizo and Beef Burgers

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Comiendo en LA says:

I don´t remember my first flan!! But I love flan and I don´t usually eat it!!I need to find a good place in LA where I can hace it!

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Justice Jonesie says:

Oooh, fun! I think I am too much of a wimp to try and make my own flan. I’ve heard several stories about determined chefs spending hours trying to make it only to have a flop of a flan. Yikes! I’ll have to read these stories to see if my fears are legit or if there are more success stories than I thought.

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Monica says:

I’ve never made flan. Tengo miedo. Hats off to those of you who have!!

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Carrie says:

Raul, I am with you!
I could eat flan for breakfast, lunch and dinner…and I try not to judge those who do not like it! Like, they’re not evolved or not worthy of the kingdom! LOL

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Carrie says:

Don’t deny yourself sorulitos or flan because of that!
If you were excited enough to try before, I bet you, you’ll do great the second time…

Do it, do it!

Todas las mujeres Latinas tienen que hacer flan y postres!
And thanks for sharing your cuento.

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Carrie says:

Yes, what kind of Cuban are you who doesn’t make flan! LOL (Y frijoles!)…I am trying on the frijoles part. Not so good.

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Carrie says:

I will share my recipe with you…It always has flipped, even when I was new at it and so scared…

Do it. Do it.

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Carrie says:

Fear not…You have done much more that is fear-worthy.

Now, go make a flan.

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Carrie says:

Girl, I bet you’ve never made a bad thing in your life!

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ says:

Not so good! hahahahaha. If all else fails, make a fabulous sofrito for a ready made can of beans! Works every time. Si te gusta chorizo, hechale!

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ says:

Go.Make.A.Flan. I’ll even share some vids teaching you how to make it! :)

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Lisa Renata says:

Hijole pues, now I feel guilty for never have made a flan. I’m not very fond of them, but with all the variations out there who knows, I just might find the right one for me. You’ve inspired me Chicas!

Posted on February 1st, 2012

The best of January… | PERU DELIGHTS says:

[...] 4. Tiki Tiki. Stories with cultura sabor y color. [...]

Posted on February 1st, 2012

Chantilly Patiño (@biculturalmom) says:

This is great! I love all of these stories about flan and especially the fact that I’m not the only one intimidated by flan…lol! Awesome posts everyone! And Lisa (NYChica) I’m definitely going to attempt your recipe!! ;)

Posted on February 1st, 2012

Leslie Limon says:

I still remember my first flan! It was a cream cheese flan. I was so nervous, because the friend that taught me how had burned her caramel. The flan had an overall smoky (burnt) flavor to it and it stuck stuck to the pan. But luckily, my flan turned out wonderfully! :)

Posted on February 2nd, 2012

Viviana Hurtado/The Wise Latina Club says:

Carrie, thanks for being a part of my “cheater’s flan” exorcism and including my story! Who btw, is the fierce abuela who said it must be “photoshopped”? Nothing like an abuela to bajarnos any ínfulas, flan or otherwise.

Posted on February 5th, 2012

Melanie Edwards Ella Media & says:

I love flan! Me encanta. But, have never tried to make my own. It looks like so much work! Like Li I did once make one from a Goya box, which is like blasphemy, I know. Maybe one day….you can teach me! ;)

Posted on February 8th, 2012