Flan + Custard

Take a trip to Spain or Latin America and you'll soon encounter flan—a silky smooth and immensely satisfying custard dessert. Unfortunately, people shy away from preparing flan at home because it can be intimidating. When cooking custard on the stove, you need to be patient, simmering it slowly to prevent curdling, and stirring it constantly for consistent texture. Also, be sure the caramel doesn't crystallize and that the flan releases from the dish when it's flipped over. Making custard can be tricky, but Food & Wine's guide has all the tips you need to create a delicious finished product.

Most Recent

Blueberry Panna Cotta with Blueberry Chia Pudding
Start with blueberry panna cotta, top it with a blueberry and chia seed pudding, and finish it with a pile of fresh blueberries for a blueberry trifecta. If you haven't had chia seeds yet, here's a delicious way to give them a try. They add crunchy pops of texture to this creamy dessert, and they're good for you, too.
Quindim (Brazilian Coconut Egg Custards)
Rating: Unrated 4
These Brazilian treats feature a rich eggy custard on the top and a chewy coconut crust on the bottom. Both crust and custard come from a single batter: The macaroon-like crust forms as the shredded coconut floats and browns while baking; once cooled, the desserts are inverted, revealing the shiny, sunny custard layer. White sugar will result in sunny yellow custard, while light brown sugar will tint it pale gold. Be sure to allow the quindim to cool—and fully set—completely before flipping the muffin tray. Quindim, a term that traces its etymology from both Brazilian Portuguese and West African languages, may also appear in the plural as quindins. When the custard is baked in a ring mold, it is called quindão. This recipe is from Jessica B. Harris, a scholar of the cuisine of the African diaspora who fell in love with the dessert on her travels to Salvador, in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Read more about her travels and culinary discoveries here.
Chicory Coffee Flan
Rating: Unrated 2
Lovers of Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá) will appreciate the dark roasted flavor of chicory coffee in this creamy flan. A touch of bitterness from the chicory root and the classic addition of sweetened condensed milk round out this make-ahead dessert.
Labneh Panna Cotta with Orange Blossom Granita
This dessert is all about contrast—in temperature, texture, and flavor. Smooth and creamy panna cotta is paired with a lightly floral, lightly sweet granita for an icy, cool bite. A base of tangy, tart apricot jam and a garnish of crispy crumbled toasted baguette finishes off each plate.
Pandan Panna Cotta with Mango and Pink Peppercorn
Sometimes called the vanilla of Southeast Asia, pandan leaves offer a sweet grassy note and faint nuttiness to both desserts and savory dishes. I’ve tasted their unique flavor in steamed rice at Southeast Asian restaurants, wrapped around grilled chicken and fish, and baked into a surprisingly delicious Thai-style durian custard. My favorite health spa even adds it to their water instead of cucumbers or lemons. But I find the leaves particularly delicious infused into creamy ingredients like coconut milk and dairy.This recipe is inspired by a trip I took to Vietnam and my resulting obsession with pandan tea. One day I was frantically putting together a menu for an impromptu dinner party, but I was stuck on what to do for the dessert finale. On this particular day I was sipping my late-afternoon cup of pandan tea (a souvenir from that trip) when the idea struck to steep some of the dried leaves into cream and make a pandan-flavored panna cotta.Panna cotta is my go-to quick dessert. It’s simple to throw together before friends show up and does its magical congealing thing in the fridge while the evening progresses. Aside from the ease in making it, I find the cool, ethereal lightness is really nice at the end of a big meal; it manages to be rich without being heavy. The key is to avoid adding too much gelatin—we’re going for just barely holding its shape and super jiggly here, as opposed to the springy texture of Jell-O.One of my favorite Thai treats is mango sticky rice, and the best version I know has pandan in the coconut sauce that’s spooned on top. With that in mind, I chose mangos for the topping for this pandan-scented dessert. March is prime Ataulfo—aka Champagne—mango season, so be sure to search them out. They are those smaller, kidney-shaped yellow mangos you’ll find at any grocer with a good produce section, but especially at Asian or Latin markets. With extra sweetness and richer flavor than other mangos, they’re perfectly delicious just diced—no need to macerate in sugar or employ other such tricks. But a sprinkling of crushed pink peppercorns on top does add pretty color and a little fragrant punch to complete the dish.I first tried this recipe with the dried pandan leaf tea I’d brought back from Vietnam, but stateside it’s easier to find frozen pandan leaves in the freezer aisle at Asian markets; they revive beautifully once thawed.
Classic Panna Cotta
Italian for "cooked cream," panna cotta is a culinary paradox; its luxurious texture belies its ridiculously simple preparation. A judicious amount of gelatin is the secret to perfect panna cotta: too much and your dessert will bounce like a Jell-O jiggler, too little and you'll wind up with a sad, runny pudding. We've nailed the proper ratio in this recipe, which yields a perfectly soft-set panna cotta with just the right amount of wobble. Fresh vanilla bean seeds perfume the base mixture, while creamy buttermilk adds a balancing tang. The smooth sweetness of this dessert begs for a hint of acidity and tartness; a warm dollop of your favorite sweet-tart jam or preserves will do just the trick.

More Flan + Custard

Burnt Caramel Flan
Rating: Unrated 1
Photographer Romulo Yanes lets the requisite caramel sauce in this vanilla-flecked flan go a shade darker for a faint bitter edge that cuts through the dense, sweet custard. For a distinctly Cuban touch, he tops the flan with a rum-spiked whipped cream. Slideshow: More Flan Recipes
Milk Chocolate–Peanut Custards
Rating: Unrated 1
San Francisco chef Matthew Accarrino of SPQR is a firm believer in making desserts healthy. So instead of loading his custard with cream, he uses just a bit, along with low-fat chocolate milk and silken tofu, for texture. He also opts to include roasted peanuts, which add terrific flavor and a little crunch. Slideshow: More Custard Recipes