Flan
Overview
 
For the open pie dessert, see Flan
Flan
Crème caramel , flan , or caramel custard is a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top...

.
For the Japanese style cartoon, made by Takara Tomy
Takara Tomy
is a Japanese toy, children's merchandise and entertainment company created from the March 2006 merger of two companies:  Tomy and long-time rival, Takara...

, see Giga pudding
Giga pudding
Giga Pudding is a dessert creation kit manufactured by the Japanese toy company Takara Tomy first released in 2008. The product itself comes with all the ingredients required, and a large bucket to prepare in and create a twenty serving crème caramel meant to be shared...

.


Crème caramel (kʁɛm kaʀa'mel), flan (flɑ̃), or caramel custard is a custard
Custard
Custard is a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolk. Depending on how much egg or thickener is used, custard may vary in consistency from a thin pouring sauce , to a thick pastry cream used to fill éclairs. The most common custards are used as...

 dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

 with a layer of soft caramel
Caramel
Caramel is a beige to dark-brown confection made by heating any of a variety of sugars. It is used as a flavoring in puddings and desserts, as a filling in bonbons, and as a topping for ice cream, custard and coffee....

 on top, as opposed to crème brûlée
Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée , also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel...

, which is custard with a hard caramel top. The dish is eaten throughout the world.

Crème caramel used to be ubiquitous in European restaurants; food historian Alan Davidson
Alan Davidson (food writer)
Alan Eaton Davidson was a British diplomat and historian best known for his writing and editing on food and gastronomy. He was the author of the 900-page, encyclopedic The Oxford Companion to Food .The son of a Scottish tax inspector, Davidson was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland...

 remarks:
Both crème caramel (French 'caramel custard') and flan (ultimately from Old German flado meaning 'cake') are French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 names, but flan has come to have different meanings in different regions.

In Spanish-speaking countries
Hispanophone
Hispanophone or Hispanosphere denotes Spanish language speakers and the Spanish-speaking world. The word derives from the Latin political name of the Iberian Peninsula, Hispania, which comprised basically the territory of the modern states of Spain and Portugal.Hispanophones are estimated at...

 and in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, flan refers to crème caramel.
Encyclopedia
For the open pie dessert, see Flan
Flan
Crème caramel , flan , or caramel custard is a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top...

.
For the Japanese style cartoon, made by Takara Tomy
Takara Tomy
is a Japanese toy, children's merchandise and entertainment company created from the March 2006 merger of two companies:  Tomy and long-time rival, Takara...

, see Giga pudding
Giga pudding
Giga Pudding is a dessert creation kit manufactured by the Japanese toy company Takara Tomy first released in 2008. The product itself comes with all the ingredients required, and a large bucket to prepare in and create a twenty serving crème caramel meant to be shared...

.


Crème caramel (kʁɛm kaʀa'mel), flan (flɑ̃), or caramel custard is a custard
Custard
Custard is a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolk. Depending on how much egg or thickener is used, custard may vary in consistency from a thin pouring sauce , to a thick pastry cream used to fill éclairs. The most common custards are used as...

 dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

 with a layer of soft caramel
Caramel
Caramel is a beige to dark-brown confection made by heating any of a variety of sugars. It is used as a flavoring in puddings and desserts, as a filling in bonbons, and as a topping for ice cream, custard and coffee....

 on top, as opposed to crème brûlée
Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée , also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel...

, which is custard with a hard caramel top. The dish is eaten throughout the world.

Crème caramel used to be ubiquitous in European restaurants; food historian Alan Davidson
Alan Davidson (food writer)
Alan Eaton Davidson was a British diplomat and historian best known for his writing and editing on food and gastronomy. He was the author of the 900-page, encyclopedic The Oxford Companion to Food .The son of a Scottish tax inspector, Davidson was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland...

 remarks:

Etymology of names

Both crème caramel (French 'caramel custard') and flan (ultimately from Old German flado meaning 'cake') are French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 names, but flan has come to have different meanings in different regions.

In Spanish-speaking countries
Hispanophone
Hispanophone or Hispanosphere denotes Spanish language speakers and the Spanish-speaking world. The word derives from the Latin political name of the Iberian Peninsula, Hispania, which comprised basically the territory of the modern states of Spain and Portugal.Hispanophones are estimated at...

 and in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, flan refers to crème caramel. This was originally a Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 usage, but the dish is now best known in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in a Latin American context. Elsewhere, including in Britain, a flan
Flan
Crème caramel , flan , or caramel custard is a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top...

 (French flan pâtissier) is a type of tart
Tart
A tart is a baked dish consisting of a filling over a pastry base with an open top not covered with pastry. The pastry is usually shortcrust pastry; the filling may be sweet or savoury, though modern tarts are usually fruit-based, sometimes with custard....

 somewhat like a quiche
Quiche
Quiche is a savory, open-faced pie of vegetables, cheese, or meat in custard, baked in a pastry crust.The quiche is sometimes regarded as the savoury equivalent ofegg custard tart.- Etymology:...

, usually containing a thick egg custard with either sweet or savoury flavouring.

'The Modern English word flan and the earlier flawn come from French flan, from Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 flaon, in turn from Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

 fladonem, derived from the Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 flado, a sort of flat cake, probably from an Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 root for 'flat' or 'broad'. The North American sense of flan as crème caramel was borrowed from Latin American Spanish.

Preparation, cooking and presentation

Preparation

Crème caramel is a variant of plain custard (crème) where sugar syrup cooked to caramel stage is poured into the mold before adding the custard base. It is usually cooked in a bain-marie
Bain-marie
A bain-marie is a French term for a piece of equipment used in science, industry, and cooking to heat materials gently and gradually to fixed temperatures, or to keep materials warm over a period of time.- Description :...

 on a stove top or in the oven in a water bath. It is turned and served with the caramel sauce on top, hence the alternate French name crème caramel renversée.

Imitations

An imitation of crème caramel may be prepared from "instant flan powder", which is thickened with agar
Agar
Agar or agar-agar is a gelatinous substance derived from a polysaccharide that accumulates in the cell walls of agarophyte red algae. Throughout history into modern times, agar has been chiefly used as an ingredient in desserts throughout Asia and also as a solid substrate to contain culture medium...

 or carrageenan
Carrageenan
Carrageenans or carrageenins are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red seaweeds. There are several varieties of carrageen used in cooking and baking. Kappa-carrageenan is used mostly in breading and batter due to its gelling nature...

 rather than eggs. In some Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

n countries, the true custard version is known as "milk flan" (flan de leche) or even "milk cheese", and the substitute version is known as just "flan".

Latin America

Most notably in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

, but also in some neighbouring countries, crème caramel is usually eaten with dulce de leche
Dulce de leche
Dulce de leche is a thick,creamy, caramel-like milk-based sauce or spread.Literally translated, dulce de leche means "sweet from milk". It is prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelised sugar. It is a popular sweet in Latin America, where...

.

In Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, and Brazil it is often made with condensed milk
Condensed milk
Condensed milk, also known as sweetened condensed milk, is cow's milk from which water has been removed and to which sugar has been added, yielding a very thick, sweet product which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if unopened. The two terms, condensed milk and sweetened...

, milk, eggs and sugar caramelized on top. The Venezuelan version is known as "quesillo" and in Brazil, it is known as "pudim de leite condensado".

In Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 it is often eaten with dulce de membrillo
Dulce de membrillo
Dulce de membrillo or Carne de membrillo in Spanish, marmelada in Portuguese, codonyat in Catalan, cotognata in Italian, is a sweet spread or a dessert ....

 (a quince
Quince
The quince , or Cydonia oblonga, is the sole member of the genus Cydonia and native to warm-temperate southwest Asia in the Caucasus region...

 gelatin spread) or leche condensada
Condensed milk
Condensed milk, also known as sweetened condensed milk, is cow's milk from which water has been removed and to which sugar has been added, yielding a very thick, sweet product which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if unopened. The two terms, condensed milk and sweetened...

.

Cuba

Cuban flan known in Spanish-speaking countries
Hispanophone
Hispanophone or Hispanosphere denotes Spanish language speakers and the Spanish-speaking world. The word derives from the Latin political name of the Iberian Peninsula, Hispania, which comprised basically the territory of the modern states of Spain and Portugal.Hispanophones are estimated at...

 as "Flan de Cuba" is made with the addition of the whites of two eggs and the flavoring of a cinnamon stick.

A similar Cuban dish is "Copa Lolita", a small caramel flan served with one or two scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Other variations include coconut or rum raisin topping.

Philippines

In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, flan is known as leche flan (the local term for the originally Spanish flan de leche,
literally "milk flan"), which is a heavier version of the Spanish flan made with condensed milk and more egg yolks. Leche flan is usually steamed over an open flame or stove top, although rarely it can also be seen baked. Leche flan is a staple in celebratory feasts.

A heavier version of leche flan, tocino del cielo, is similar, but has significantly more egg yolks and sugar.

Vietnam

Crème caramel was introduced by the French and has been common in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. It is known as bánh caramel, caramen or kem caramel in northern Vietnam or bánh flan or kem flan in southern Vietnam. Sometimes the caramel underneath can be replaced with black coffee, giving the dish a new tone and distinctive flavour.

Japan

Packaged crème caramel is ubiquitous in Japanese convenience stores under the name (i.e., "pudding"), or custard pudding. Often, an entire shelf in a Lawson
Lawson (store)
Lawson, Inc. is a convenience store franchise chain in Japan. The store originated in the U.S. State of Ohio, but today exists as a Japanese company and is the second largest convenience store chain in the country....

 or 7-Eleven
7-Eleven
7-Eleven is part of an international chain of convenience stores, operating under Seven-Eleven Japan Co. Ltd, which in turn is owned by Seven & I Holdings Co...

is dedicated to over a dozen brands and varieties.


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