I didn’t make leche flan over the Holiday season. I made them earlier today. And I only did so because I didn’t know what to do with the four egg yolks after I used the egg whites to make puto (steamed rice cakes). After I decided that leche flan was the best solution, I figured why not experiment and try to find an ideal egg-milk proportion for making creamy but not soggy leche flan. Additionally, wouldn’t it be interesting to find out just how many individual-sized leche flans can be made from four egg yolks without economizing on quality? You know, so that if I ever decide to serve leche flan at a party, I’ll know exactly how many eggs to crack and minimize wastage.
Leche flan is a custard made with egg yolks, milk and sugar. Traditionally, it is cooked in an oval metal llanera about two inches high and six inches long. I’ve nothing against the size nor the shape of the traditional llanera but, from experience, place a llanera-sized leche flan on a buffet table and so much goes to waste. Even if you cut the leche flan into portions, some will become so disfigured that no one will touch them. No wonder that in some restaurant buffets, leche flan is served in individual sizes. You can make your leche flan in smaller sizes too. You can use a muffin pan or you can buy molds that look like batya (clothes basin) with the corrugated edges.
I used puto molds made from hard plastic. I really prefer them over the metal molds which get rusty when unused for a few months. In most wet markets, you can buy these plastic molds in stores that sell equipment for making local delicacies like bibingka and puto bumbong.
I also did a short cut — bottled molasses in lieu of caramelized sugar for the syrup. Actually, when I decided to make leche flan, the idea of melting sugar to make the syrup didn’t seem so attractive because it’s always such an effort washing the cooking pan where the sugar had been melted. The moment the caramelized sugar crystallizes — and it does when it reaches room temperature after a few minutes — washing the pan becomes a headache. You’d have to boil water in the pan to soften the sugar and everything…
Still, I psyched myself up and decided to melt some brown sugar anyway. Then, it turned out we didn’t have brown sugar. So, I took the bottle of molasses from the fridge and that’s that.
The diameter of the puto mold is three inches; the height is one inch. I was able to make seven mini leche flans using the following proportion of ingredients:
- 4 egg yolks
1/2 c. of sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. of fresh milk (not evaporated milk but the kind you drink straight out of the carton)
half a teaspoonful of lemon extract
3-4 teaspoonfuls of molasses
- Spread about half a teaspoonful of molasses on the bottom of each mold.
Beat the egg yolks. Pour in the milk and the sweetened condensed milk and mix until well blended. Add the lemon extract and stir a few more times. Strain through a fine sieve (or use a cloth).
Fill each mold with the egg-milk mixture until almost full. Don’t worry that it will overflow as it cooks. Leche flan does not rise nor expand during cooking — it just becomes firm.
Steam for about 15 minutes. Cool before inverting. You may have to run the tip of a knife around the mold to loosen the leche flan before inverting.
Cooking time (duration): 20 minutes
Number of servings (yield): Seven 3-inch custards