Video by: Ignacio Torres
In our second installment of Cooking With Natalie, the Today Show anchor who secretly loves to cook at home shares a sacred recipe: her mother’s flan. “I got this from my mother who got it from her mother,” says Natalie. As it’s transcended generations, the recipe has seen its share of modifications. Natalie’s version is light, if you can believe that. “It’s a lower calorie, lower fat version because I use fat-free condensed milk and low-fat evaporated milk. But I promise you won’t sacrifice on flavor. I can’t tell the difference in the taste,” Natalie explains. For this recipe, you’ll need either a flan mold or a double boiler pan. You can make this in the oven using a baño maria (a water bath) or over the stove top, in the double boiler.
4 large eggs
1 can low-fat evaporated milk (“you can use full fat if you want it a tad creamier though I do not really notice a difference,” says Natalie)
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk (again, you can use regular)
1 tsp. vanilla
Unsweetened coconut flakes (“Optional. I like coconut in it, but you can also use a bit of light coconut milk; in the fall I even use pumpkin instead of coconut”)
¾ cup sugar
1. In a blender, combine the 4 eggs, evaporated and condensed milks, vanilla and coconut flakes. Blend until smooth, and set aside.
2. Heat water in the bottom part of a double boiler pan (about ¼ way full) or in a roasting pan in an oven preheated to 325 degrees, also ¼ of the way full.
3. While the water is heating, pour the sugar into a flan mold. Over a very low flame, caramelize the sugar. This is the hardest part of the recipe because the key is not to let the sugar burn or get too dark. The pan can be directly over the flame. Use a wooden spoon to work the sugar around the pan. Remove from the flame as soon as the sugar starts to turns a light brown.
4. Once the sugar reaches a light brown caramel color it’s important to coat the whole pan with it. Tilt the pan and using the wooden spoon coat all of the pan’s sides. Now it’s ready for the flan mixture.
5. Pour the flan mixture into the sugar coated flan mold. Place it in the water in the double boiler pan or in the water-filled roasting pan in the oven.
4. If you’re using a double boiler, cook for about 45 minutes, but check the water level in the base every 15 min. or so to make sure it is always about ¼ full. The flan is cooked through when the top pulls from the sides of the pan a bit. (If you’ve cooking it in the oven, at 325, it should take about the same time.)
5. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
6. To serve take a large dessert platter and place on top of the flan mold as if it were a lid. Do this over the sink to ensure no spillage. Quickly flip the pan onto the platter. The flan should come out of the mold perfectly with a beautiful caramel glaze. Enjoy!
Alessandra Hickson contributed to this report.