What is a Flan?
Flan is a dessert with eggs and milk as the usual main ingredients. Usually it is made into an open type of pastry like pies. It may also be mixed with other ingredients to add flavoring. One such ingredient commonly mixed to it is caramelized sugar. This is usually put on top or at the bottom of the custard or flan mixture to add a sweet flavor. It is also for this reason that flans are also called cream caramels.
Flan recipes can be traced as far back as ancient Roman times. During this period, Romans were said to raise chickens to keep the eggs. Reports indicate that when there were so many eggs available, some Romans decided to make new recipes. This eventually led to the development of the custard-like mixture we know today. But during the Roman times, flan was more of a savory dish rather than a sweet dessert. Various food items and ingredients were mixed with egg and milk to come up with a variety of dishes.
Flan then evolved over the years as a sweet dessert. Eggs and milk or cream are still the basic ingredients in making this well-loved dessert. The word “flan” has Latin roots and it means “flat cake”. It later became “flaon” which is an Old French word. Flan recipes eventually reached many countries of the world. In Spain, flan became the custard dessert mixed with caramelized sugar. In other countries like the UK, flan was made with pastry crusts and became more like custard pies. The English version of this dessert is also often mixed with nuts and a variety of fruits.
Today, flan recipes are very popular especially in Latin American countries, in the US, Japan, and the Philippines. Various recipes were invented and sometimes using alternatives to the original ingredients. The Japanese are said to substitute cow’s milk with milk from soy in making their flan desserts. Others put extra ingredients like fruit slices and whip cream to add to the sweet creamy taste.