What is flan mixto?
The flan mixto or flan casero mixto, casero meaning “homemade” is one of the favorite desserts of the porteños, or “those of the port”, as the locals from Buenos Aires are called.
In Buenos Aires, there is not a bodega that does not have it on its menu. The term bodega in Spanish can mean, among other things, “pantry”, “tavern” or “wine bar”.
The flan mixto is a perfect mixture of only 4 ingredients to obtain a light and trembling flan: eggs, whole milk, a vanilla pod and sugar. Everything is combined with a touch of whipped cream and a touch of dulce de leche.
In Argentina, the success of this dessert is such that a thematic route, La ruta del flan mixto (“the route of the flan mixto”) was even created a few years ago, recommending emblematic places where it can be tasted.
Indeed, the flan mixto, has a group of followers who visit wine bars, taverns and restaurants in search of the best version. The members of La Ruta del Flan Mixto who define themselves as “friends, brothers for life”, come together to “share good times, spirits, meals, desserts and deep discussions”. And they describe their meetings as unforgettable “not only for the company but also for the chosen place and the gastronomic delights to taste”.
How to make flan mixto
The main ingredient in flan mixto is the egg. Flan mixto, like all flans in general, must be cooked in a double boiler. The eggs curdle and take the shape of the mold, acquiring a gelatinous, creamy and trembling consistency.
In addition to eggs, whole milk and other flavoring ingredients are also used: in the majority of cases, vanilla, and this is also the most traditional fragrance. But, other scents like cinnamon, lemon or lime zest are sometimes used.
There are also recipes that use fresh fruit juices and jams, melted chocolate, coffee, creamy cheese, or even yogurt. There are even more variations that incorporate almonds, pistachios, dulce de leche, lemon or other pieces of fruit.
In very ancient times, and it is very rare today, there were certain recipes with black pepper and honey, as well as another, very elaborate recipe, with sugar, cheese, almonds, fish, cinnamon, spinach and pastry cream.
To prepare this flan, simply prepare the vanilla-infused milk (or other flavor). The eggs and sugar are whipped together and the milk is added slowly. The mixture is then poured into the mold with liquid caramel.
It is imperative to cook it in a double boiler with this caramel at the bottom. After cooking, the mold is turned over on a plate, so that the caramel covers the flan.
By itself, with whipped cream, it is called flan con crema, and with dulce de leche too, it is called flan mixto.
What is the origin of flan?
The word flan comes from the old French word flaon, from the late Latin word fladon, which is derived from the old German word flado, which means a flat cake.
Like many desserts, the history of flan began during the Roman Empire. The first name for this dessert was tyropatin.
The Romans were the first to domesticate chickens and found themselves in possession of a surplus of eggs. So they used techniques they had borrowed from the Greeks to develop new egg recipes. These recipes have resulted in many dishes and desserts, including flan.
At the time, most versions of the flan were savory rather than sweet, and included flavors like eels sprinkled with pepper. The first sweet recipes recorded contained only one sweetener: honey.
As the Romans conquered almost all of Europe, their customs, beliefs and recipes accompanied them wherever they went.
The sweet variant of flan was introduced to all newly defeated lands and after the fall of the Roman Empire on September 4, 476, the flan survived.
Of all the people introduced to this dessert, the Spanish particularly took it away and they were the first to garnish it with a caramel sauce. Like the Romans before them, the Spanish brought the flan to new lands, when in 1518 the famous conquistador Hernán Cortés landed in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.
The Mexicans took the flan to a whole new level. They created flavored versions with coffee, chocolate and even coconuts, and the recipes became popular not only in Mexico, but throughout the rest of Latin America.
This most primitive flan born in ancient Rome, waited until the Middle Ages to see the appearance of the flado, a cake in Latin, which became sweet, and it was only after the Middle Ages that this cake went to Christopher Columbus who took it with him to conquer the New World. In the Middle Ages, flan was consumed in large quantities during Lent.
In Argentina, to the flan was added a rioplatense creation like the dulce de leche, a real contribution to world gastronomy and especially Latin American. The combination of the sweet flavor of the flan and the more pronounced dulce de leche was already a great idea until the perfect complement to assemble this trilogy appeared.
People had to find another element that would soften the sweetness of dulce de leche a little more, and whipped cream (crème Chantilly), one of the most exquisite culinary inventions of French cuisine, was the solution. The invention was born in a bodega and was quickly adopted by most porteños.
Note that rioplatense is the Spanish variant used in Argentina and Uruguay. A language strongly influenced by Italian given the large number of Italian immigrants in the 19th century and early 20th century in the region.
The different varieties of flan around the world
In Latin America, more particularly in Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay, but also in certain neighboring countries, this caramel flan is traditionally enjoyed with dulce de leche.
In Venezuela and Brazil, it is often prepared from sweetened condensed milk, with milk, eggs, and topped with caramelized sugar on top. The Venezuelan version is known as quesillo. In Brazil, it is called pudim de leite condensado.
Cuban flan, known in Spanish-speaking countries as flan de Cuba, is prepared with eggs and a cinnamon stick for flavor. A similar Cuban dish is copa lolita, a small caramel custard served with one or two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Other variations use coconut or rum/raisin ice cream.
In Peru, people enjoy crema volteada with condensed milk. Fruit is also sometimes added, such as lucuma, but also custard, cherimoya or passion fruit.
In Puerto Rico, most flans are milk-based. Some are coconut-based and called coconut flan, with condensed milk and coconut milk or coconut cream. A beaten egg white foam is used to lighten the mixture. The coconut flan is usually flavored with cinnamon, rum and vanilla.
Around Thanksgiving, it is traditional to add pumpkin or batata (similar to sweet potato) to the custard with spices such as ginger, vanilla, cinnamon. A combination of pumpkin, coconut, sweet potato, carrot and almond extract flan is unique and only served during Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico.
Another popular flan is the flancocho, flavored with a layer of cream cheese and a Puerto Rican-style sponge cake underneath. The flancocho can also be prepared with cream cheese and cake batter incorporated into the custard mixture.
Other popular flavors are piña colada, mango, pineapple, lemon, lime, guava, passion fruit, tamarind and banana. Spanish lime, sweet plantains, sesame seeds, breadfruit and cassava are also uniquely Puerto Rican.
In the Philippines, flan is known as leche flan, a local name from the Spanish term flan de leche, (literally “milk flan”), which is a more consistent version of Spanish flan, composed of sweetened condensed milk and more egg yolks.
The leche flan is generally cooked in steam or directly on a stove. An even more substantial Filipino version than leche flan is the tocino del ciel, which differs in that it contains significantly more egg yolks and sugar.
In Vietnam, the caramel flan was introduced by the French and is known as bánh caramel or kem caramel in the north, or bánh flan or kem flan in the south. The caramel below can sometimes be replaced by black coffee, giving the dish a new flavor and distinct aromas.
In Japan, industrial caramel flan is very popular in stores under the name of purin (プリン) or pudding flan.
The flan mixto or flan casero mixto is a popular Argentinian, Uruguayan and Mexican dessert. Caramel custard with dulce de leche and whipped cream.
- 8 eggs
- 1 vanilla pod
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- 4 cups whole milk
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons dulce de leche
- ¾ cup very cold whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 ramekins
- Combine water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Heat the mixture, stirring the pan regularly. The sugar should be soaked in water to facilitate even cooking.
- As soon as it starts to boil, the syrup clears up. The caramel is colored.
- As soon as the blond color appears, remove the pan from the heat and immerse it in a bath of very cold water to immediately stop cooking.
- Distribute the caramel in the bottom of 6 individual flan molds or ramekins (or a single flan mold). Let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 300 F (150°C).
- In a non-stick saucepan, boil the milk with ¼ cup (50 grams) of sugar and a vanilla pod split lengthwise.
- Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let the vanilla pod infuse until the milk cools.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining ½ cup (100 grams) of caster sugar.
- While continuing to beat, slowly add the milk to the eggs.
- Distribute the mixture thus obtained in the individual molds with the cooled caramel.
- Bake the flans in the over in a bain marie for 45 minutes.
- Let cool to room temperature then place the flans in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before unmolding them.
- Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract.
- Unmold and serve immediately accompanied by whipped cream and dulce de leche.