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.
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.
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
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