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.

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Chestnut Crème Brûlée

Rich, luxurious chestnut puree settles toward the bottom of each ramekin, creating a beautiful ombré effect in this Corsican riff on the French classic. Available online, it has a texture that’s a cross between smooth almond butter and pastry filling.
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Bourbon Custard with Berry Dust Meringues

A silky and creamy custard topped with shards of candy-like meringue and sweet-tart fresh berries, this dessert is rich but not too heavy. The bourbon in the custard cuts through the dairy and adds mellow caramel and vanilla notes.
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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.
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Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème

Chef Jamie Malone of Grand Cafe in Minneapolis floats a coffee gelée atop her decadent chocolate pots de crème. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the custard and gelée to set so your spoon can glide through both layers. You can find tonka beans at amazon.com, or substitute a whole vanilla bean. Slideshow: More Custard Recipes
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Burnt Caramel Flan

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
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Cheese Flans

These silky, creamy flans are astonishingly delicious due in part to the inclusion of cream cheese and ricotta, which add a bit more heft. Slideshow: More Flan Recipes
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More Flan + Custard

Toasted Coconut Flan

This toasted coconut flan has a silky texture and loads of coconut flavor. If you’re having trouble removing the flan from the pan, dip the bottom of the pan in a shallow pan of very hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. The heat will soften the caramel, and the flan will be easier to unmold. Slideshow: More Coconut Dessert Recipes
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Milk Chocolate–Peanut Custards

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
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