Well we have Hernán Cortés to blame for flan, as he was the one that brought this Roman dessert to the New World in the early 16th century. We also have the Yucatecans to blame for their ingenious embellishment of the original recipe, adding chocolate, coconut, or coffee to the mix.
The history of flan dates back to the Roman Empire when they discovered their domestication of chickens brought on a whole new problem, an over abundance of eggs. Quickly, new recipes were formulated to use these egg excess. A savory flan was created first with a sweet flan using honey coming to a Roman dining room tables soon after. The Spanish loved the sweet flan, added caramel to the mix and started spreading flan news and recipes as they conquered the world.
Flan is deeply associated with Mexican culinary history. The original recipe with caramel is the most requested version of this sweet dessert, but its counterparts that use coconut, chocolate or coffee are not far behind. The egg, milk, sugar mixture is easy to prepare and a sure hit with just about anyone.
A local friend from Merida shared her recipe with me. This is the easiest, fastest, and most delicious recipe I think I have ever had.
How to Make It
Pour sugar in an 8 inch round cake pan. Place the pan on low heat on your stove top and slowly melt the sugar in the pan until liquid. Place aside.
Put all ingredients listed into a blender and blend for a few minutes. Pour the mixture into your cake pan (on top of the melted sugar) and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Use kitchen cotton string to seal the aluminum foil around the pan, wrapping the string around the top of the cake pan a few times. This will prevent any water from getting into the pan and in the flan.
Place the cake pan in a saucepan filled with water so the cake pan is sitting in a bath. The water should cover just the bottom half of the pan, not the entire pan. Bring the water to a slow boil and then turn the heat to low. Cover the saucepan for 30 minutes checking the water level every 10 minutes. Add more hot water if the water level is lower than the halfway mark on the cake pan.
When finished, take the cake pan out of the hot water, remove the aluminum foil and let the flan sit until cool. Once cool, remove the aluminum foil and string, use a knife around the edges of the pan to remove the flan from the pan , put a plate over the top of the cake pan, and flip the flan over. Slowly remove the cake pan, and your flan will fall out of the pan onto the plate, with the caramelized sugar seeping over the sides of the flan. Serve.