Perfect Flan

I didn’t think I was a flan person, until I had this one. While I find most recipes to produce a flan that’s gelatinous in texture and wan in flavor, Mom’s recipe uses cream cheese. The result hits the sweet spot that’s somewhere between a flan and a cheesecake with just the right level of sweetness in the caramel top. When she makes it, I can’t get enough.

This year, I’m hosting some friends for New Year’s Eve and I’m taking it in a Spanish direction that accommodates my gluten-free friend – sangria and a few tapas to start, paella for dinner, and this flan for dessert.

Perfect Flan
Serve 8

1 cup granulated sugar
1 package light (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 can (14 ounces) condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bring 1 quart of water to boil for a water bath.
Whisking constantly bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to boil over medium-high heat in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. When mixture starts to boil, turn heat to medium-low and stop whisking. Continue to simmer, swirling pan occasionally  until mixture turns golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate set in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate it.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy in a medium bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides, after each addition. Beat in milks and vanilla until smooth.

Set roasting pan in oven; pour flan batter into pie plate and water into roasting pan. Bake until flan is jiggly, but set, about 1 hour. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Run a small knife around pie plate perimeter to loosen flan. Invert onto a large lipped platter. Cut into wedges and serve.