Flan, Por Favor!

this is not my Coto, but a Coto.

I've shared a bit in past posts about the adjustment it's been for me to figure out the grocery shopping and meal planning in a foreign country.  Trips to the store that would've taken me a mere half hour at home, end up taking an hour and a half here.  Part of this is because I don't know the store layout totally yet (whereas at home I actually write my grocery list in the order of the aisles - yes, a bit obsessive, I realize), and the other obvious reason it takes forever is that I have to figure out WHAT things are.  It's becoming easier, and actually a friend here introduced me to online grocery ordering and delivery- still an hour and a half of hunting, but in my living room on my couch.

This same friend actually lives around the corner from our apartment and has 4 kids.  I met her at the nearby park, and she has taken me under her wing in a lot of ways.  A few weeks ago, she invited us all over for dinner.  We had a fabulous time and delicious food!  Dessert was gobbled down quickly by everyone, and has become a new favorite to order in restaurants... flan.  "Oh, it's so easy!  You should make some!"

Flan is defined by Wikipedia as... Flan is synonymous with crème caramel in some areas; it may also refer to:
  • Flan or quiche, a baked dish that is made primarily of eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust

When in Rome, right?   My friend wrote down the recipe, and I was off to the COTO supermercado in search of the ingredients and the special pan.  After much searching for condensed milk, I finally found it on the top shelf.  But I couldn't find the sugar.  It's a grocery store... there has to be sugar somewhere!  I searched in the "baking" section, but only found powdered sugar.  Okay, I realized at this point I was going to have to ask someone.  Anytime this realization comes to me, here's what immediately follows...

1.  Find the nearest person who might speak English.
2.  Figure out how I can ask the question I need to ask.  Is it feminine or masculine?  First person? ugh.
3.  Repeat my best guess at translation over and over again in my mind until I have it down.
4.  Give it my best shot..."Disculpe, una pregunta por favor?  Donde esta azúcar?"

Okay, after this whole process and me repeating it multiple times, the person finally realizes what I'm saying and is very eager to help me out.  And herein lies the real problem.  I have rehearsed and rehearsed my question, but have no idea what their answer was.  Really, not a clue.  And they rattled it off like I was a fellow porteño.  I found myself so lost in trying to understand them, that I just absently kept nodding and saying "si, si, si."  They think they've been helpful, but I have no more idea where to find the sugar after this conversation than I did when this whole goose chase began.  I return to walking up and down the aisles (passing the person who told me where to find the sugar numerous times) until I finally spot it, near the coffee... makes perfect sense, almost.  Okay, mental note made and moving on.

I get home and Michael can hardly contain his excitement that his dear, sweet mother is going to make flan for him!!  I set out all the ingredients, track down the hand-written recipe, and off we go.  I am not going to go through every step here with you, but am including the recipe I was given and  another recipe and blogpost that I found online that I think you might enjoy as well.

Here is the recipe from a local...

The first step is the most fragile... caramelizing the sugar.  Basically, I was told to put about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of sugar in the bottom of the pan and place it directly over the burner.  Then, when the color starts to change and the sugar begins to liquify, start shaking it gently to keep it even all around.  This was almost a disaster, because Michael wanted to "see" what was happening, and I took the pan off the heat for a few seconds.  The liquid immediately started to harden, almost to the point of no return, but luckily, Mark suggested raising the heat, and saved the day.

Once the liquid is a nice caramel color, set it aside for a minute to let it harden.  Mix together the following ingredients in a separate bowl.

4 yolks and 2 full eggs
2 cans of condensed milk
1 half cup of water
Pour over the caramelized sugar
Place pan in a dish of warm water and place in the oven on medium heat for 40-45 minutes, checking to make sure the top doesn't get overly brown.  Pull it out and let it cool in the fridge for 30+ minutes. 

After lots of pacing, use a knife to free the sides of the flan from the pan. Place a plate upside down on top of the flan bowl and flip it over onto the plate.  Voilá!

my first flan!

The flan had a beautiful caramel top and was nice and firm.  Yes!  Woo too!  I took this photo, and then couldn't resist parading the flan around the house singing, "Look what I made!  Look what I made!"

Dinner that night was a bit bland to say the least... canned peas and frozen "milanesas" (very popular here, kind of a breaded patty of beef or chicken).  It was dinner that needed the promise of a wonderful dessert as motivation to finish.  The kids choked it down, and were all smiles when the dessert was dished out - accompanied by a dollop of dulce de leche, of course!

I had a blast trying something new, and went into it knowing that I may end up back at the supermercado to buy the pre-made flan in pudding cups that I had seen earlier that day.  However, in this episode of Sarah vs. Supermercado, Sarah prevailed and it was flan for everyone!


  1. Wow, sounds awesome!! Will give you guys a call back to catch up!! xoxox!


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