“THIS is the PERFECT Leche Flan! There are NO bubbles!” gasped my aunts who all closely inspected the custard dessert I made. This verdict was followed by “ooohs” and “aaahs” of approval. No, this was not a scene from an Iron Chef episode. This was a slice of life from our family reunions when my dessert was scrutinized by the better cooks en mi familia…my aunts and Mom.
When I was growing up, and learning how to make Leche Flan, my Mom and aunts taught me the flan’s texture must be smooth, firm, with minimal or no bubbles at all. The bubbles made the custard look like a block of Swiss cheese. It was not acceptable. To bring an ugly Leche Flan to a family party was the worst thing . Never mind that it tasted awesome. It had to look perfect….a light brown caramel crowning a smooth textured custard.
The Leche Flan(meaning Milk Custard) is one of the most iconic Filipino desserts. It is a rich, creamy custard, with an even richer, sweet caramel syrup on top. Its origins can be traced to the strong Spanish influence in Philippine culture. There are myths about its origin. Stories were passed around for generations. When the Spanish colonizers were building churches in the Philippines in the 1500s, eggwhites were used to cement stones together for the buildings. So it was said, the surplus of eggyolks brought about many desserts, one of them the LECHE FLAN.
Long ago, Leche Flan in the Philippines, was cooked in a manner different from how I bake it today. Generations ago, the old fashioned way was to steam the Leche Flan with the heat from charcoal on top of the flan, and heat from underneath a clay mold.
And traditionally, the caramel and custard were contained in a “llanera”, an oval-shaped mold made of aluminum. This could only be made and bought in the Philippines. I brought my own “Llaneras” in my suitcase when we moved to America years ago. I still have them and use them often, especially for parties.
Back in the Philippines, the real special flan was made from the best ingredients: fresh carabao milk AND flavored with the zest of fresh “dayap”, a local lime. I can still picture the old mason jars filled with fresh carabao milk delivered to our home, and with this was the promise of the best Leche Flan ever. I grew up with cows grazing our yard, and not too far from where I lived, roamed carabaos (water buffalos), too. So it was not hard to find the freshest milk for the best Leche Flan.
The other day, I thought of these memories when I made Leche Flan in my own kitchen. While I did not have cows or carabaos grazing in my suburban backyard here in America, I tried to make the Leche Flan as special as could be. I substituted the milk ingredients with a 12 oz. can of evaporated milk and a 14 oz. can of condensed milk. And to make it heavenly, I added a Macapuno topping. Macapuno are sweet slivers of coconut cooked in syrup. The Macapuno topping had heavy cream, coconut cream and caramel syrup, and poured on top of the leche flan. It was fabulous ! And it would have passed the “family inspection” …. flawless, NO bubbles!
For the easy Leche Flan recipe , head on to A Culinary Journey, where I was honored to be invited by the amazing Chef Dennis to guest post. Chef Dennis, is the Chef and Culinary Instructor at Mount Sinai Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, PA. His career in food service has spanned 35 years from White Table Cloth restaurants to Executive Dining. I was drawn to his food blog because of the many recipes, helpful instructions and valuable food information he generously gives his readers. Chef Dennis has been an inspiration, a strong supporter of my blogs, and one of the kindest blogger friends. I marvelled at what he said in his blog https://www.askchefdennis.com/ ” When you do something well and truly enjoy it, you know where you belong. ” Go along and join Chef Dennis on A Culinary Journey!