|Place of origin|| France|
|Main ingredients||egg, evaporated milk, condensed milk (optional), sugar or caramel alternative|
Egg is the main ingredient in the recipe for flan, hence its origins in ancient times, when eggs were used in cookery by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. It was widely believed then that the consumption of eggs was beneficial in treating and preventing diseases of the liver and kidneys. It was also believed that doing so increased fertility and could resolve urinary tract problems. Eggs were consumed in a mixture with milk, forming a curd.
During the Middle Ages, eggs became an important comestible during Lent when the obligation to fast prohibited the consumption of various other foods. The modern recipe for flan originated in those times.
Eggs being the main ingredient in flan, it is cooked in a water bath, causing the yolks to curdle and take the form of the mold, and to acquire a light, gelatinous and creamy texture. Besides the eggs, other ingredients are added for flavor; the milk is often cooked with vanilla, cinnamon or lemon peel, although there are also recipes that use juices and fruit compotes, melted chocolate, coffee, cream cheese or yogurt. There are many other variations that include almonds, pistachio, cajeta, lemon or other kinds of fruits; formerly there were recipes using pepper and honey, as well as another unusual one made with sugar, cheese, almonds, fish, cinnamon, spinach and custard.
Flan is traditionally cooked in a water bath with caramel in the bottom of the mold. Once the cooking is finished the mold is inverted, and the flan is consequently covered with the caramel. Flan can also be prepared using instant flan mixes, which are prepared similarly to gelatin. A smooth creamy surface is desired, with the caramel remaining liquid. Thus cooking in a water bath is essential to avoid burning the caramel and spoiling the taste of the dessert.
In Argentina it is common to accompany the flan with dulce de leche, although there are also those who prefer it with cream alone or with both complements, being called this mixed flan dessert.
In Peru, there is a variant called crema volteada (flipped cream), a flan to which, in addition to the basic ingredients, condensed milk is added during the mixing of the ingredients. Sometimes local fruits are added as well, such as lucuma, custard apple, soursop or granadilla. There is also leche asada (baked milk), which is a flan that is baked in individual molds without caramel. It features a thin, crunchy roasted layer on the top and does not need to be unmolded. It is considered to be a dessert that is more appropriate to make at a restaurant than to be made in the home.
- Staff (18 June 2011). "El origen del flan". www.abc.com.py (in Spanish). Editorial AZETA S.A. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
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