Sweetened condensed milk is the key to this luscious Brazilian flan.
Make the Caramel: Pour sugar into a medium sauce pan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until it melts and become golden brown; about for 12 to 15 minutes. Pour the caramel into a 10-inch mold pan and swirl the caramel to completely cover the base and about 1 1/2-inch up the sides. Allow to cool and harden.
Make the flan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the condensed milk, whole milk, and eggs in a large blender. Blend for about 20 seconds. If the ingredients do not fit all at once, divide them equally into 2 batches. Strain the milk mix into a large bowl, removing the foam that forms on the surface.
Pour the milk mix into the mold pan (make sure the caramel is firm so it does not incorporate into the flan) and cover with aluminum foil.
Place the mold pan in a large ovenproof dish filled up with warm water. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for about 50 minutes. The flan is ready when you stick a knife in it and it turns out clean when you remove it.
Remove it from oven and let it cool down completely. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
How to unmold the flan: Gently run a table knife all around the mold pan, and then carefully flip it over a large plate.
Enjoy it by itself or with a side of freshly beaten whipped cream and mixed berries.
Cooks Notes:This is the classic Brazilian recipe, which has so many delicious variations! You can definitely play around with this basic version and add all kinds of twists. Here are some great ideas, including recipes from all over South America!
Coconut Flan (my Dad’s favorite) – add 1/2 cup coconut flakes to the mix.
Orange Flan – replace 1 cup of milk by 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and serve it with 4 teaspoons of orange zest on top.
Quesillo (Recipe from Venezuela, courtesy of Carol Andrea Madrigal Echeverry) - add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 tablespoon of rum, and 1 extra egg. Also prepare it with only 1 can of condensed milk, and 1 cup of milk.
Cheese Flan (Flan de Queso from Puerto Rico) – add 8 oz of cream cheese and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Also, use only 2 cans of condensed milk and 2 cups of milk.
Lime Flan – add 1/4 cup lime juice to the mix and serve it with lime zest on top.