This is my aunt Dolly's flan. She doesn't like vanilla so she leaves it out, but I think it adds a little something. Cook it long and low rather than high, lest it curdle. Some hardened syrup is always left in the bottom of the bowl; soaking eventually gets it out. She never refrigerates it, but it usually doesn't take long for us to eat the whole thing! My friend Lisa says this makes her knees melt. =)
- You will need a round bowl that holds 3-4 quarts (like a mixing bowl or souffle dish; wide is better than deep); a large pan (like a turkey roaster) to be used for the bain-marie (water bath); and a serving dish that can contain the flan plus some syrup.
- CUSTARD. Beat eggs and yolks until smooth. Add condensed milk, whole milk (use the condensed milk cans to measure out the whole milk), and vanilla. Beat until combined. Cover, and allow to rest in a cool place until it's smooth and free of bubbles. (Not the fridge, it will get too thick.).
- SYRUP. In a saucepan, gently stir the sugar, water, and corn syrup until dissolved. Stop stirring and bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Boil until syrup begins to turn amber color. Working quickly (the syrup will continue to cook and darken), pour into flan bowl. (Pot holders advisable!) Carefully swirl syrup lava around sides and bottom of bowl as evenly as possible. Leave it to harden and cool completely. It's okay if it cracks.
- FLAN. Preheat oven to 350. Gently stir custard, then strain it into completely cooled syrup-coated bowl, and cover with foil. Put the larger pan in the oven and fill with about 1 inch of hot water. Put the flan into the bain-marie and add hot water to about halfway up the flan. Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours (could be longer), until custard is just set in the middle. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Just before serving, run knife or metal spatula only around top of flan to release edges. Put serving dish on top of flan and carefully flip the whole thing over: flan should release smoothly with syrup.
- COCONUT VARIANT. Instead of whole milk, substitute the same quantity of canned coconut milk. After you've swirled the syrup in the bowl, before it gets hard, put in about half a cup to a cup of "macapuno" (Filipino coconut sweet, available at an Asian grocery) or other soft coconut shreds, and spread it around the bottom of the bowl. Cook for the same time.