Portuguese Flan

For the holidays, my department at work planned a “Sweet Treat Traditions Potluck!”  Those who wanted to participate could bring a dessert typically enjoyed by their family during the holidays.  For myself, I didn’t know what I could bring since my family doesn’t have any dessert traditions.  Some Chinese desserts include mango pudding, almond jello, almond cookies, and 8,000 year sticky rice, but we don’t usually make any of these.  Instead of something Chinese, I decided to make something Portuguese!  This recipe for Portuguese flan is so delicious, and I especially enjoy the creaminess and firmness of the flan.  It takes a while to make, but it’s worth it.  This recipe is for 4-6 servings, but that’s only if you cut yourself a BIG piece of flan.  If you choose to use an 8×8 casserole dish, it can make 25 individual-sized squares.


  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla


1. Combine sugar and water in a small pan and cook over low heat; increase heat slowly to medium-high and cook until syrup turns deep amber in color (about 5 minutes).  Quickly pour the syrup into a 1-2 quart casserole dish, coating the sides by tipping the dish.

Note: Caramelizing the sugar takes longer than 5 minutes.  Combine the sugar and water before cooking.  This part is the hardest for me to get right.  The first time came out great, but I haven’t been able to repeat it.  If you boil it for too long, the water evaporates, and all you’re left with is the crystallized sugar.  Try cooking the syrup without stirring it.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F.

3. Combine eggs, egg whites, condensed milk, milk, and vanilla.  Pour mixture into caramel-coated casserole dish.  Set it in a pan of hot water and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until set.

Note: Use an electric mixer to combine these ingredients.  It makes it a lot easier to blend the condensed milk.  To separate the egg whites from the yolks, crack the egg as usual over the bowl, but only make a small opening for the whites to pour out of the shell.  This will allow the bulk of the egg white to go into the bowl.  To get the rest of the egg white out, carefully shift the egg yolk from shell to shell and allow the egg white to drip out.  You can also use egg white separator tools instead of separating the egg whites manually.

I used a smaller casserole dish for the flan and placed it in a larger casserole dish with the hot water.  The outside dish only needs to be filled halfway with hot water.

4. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until cold.  Run a knife around the inside of the casserole dish and invert on a plate.  Garnish with whipped cream and toasted almonds if desired.

Note: To reduce fat, use low-fat condensed milk and nonfat milk.


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