I love talking to people about their favorite recipes and the foods they grew up with. At my last job, we had some of the friendliest and most interesting produce delivery drivers. While I did not look forward to checking in the order and putting all of the produce away, I always enjoyed talking to Ben, Edward, and Ignatio when they delivered our order.
Ignatio grew up in Cuba and when I asked him about the food he grew up eating in Havana, he brought up cuban flan de leche immediately. One afternoon a few days later the kitchen phone rang and Ignatio said he was there with a delivery. We were not expecting anything but when I met him at the door he excitedly handed over a flan his auntie had made for us to try. It was, without doubt, one of the best flans I’ve ever had with a complex bittersweet caramel and a smooth, creamy custard.
I bugged him for the recipe and after getting it from his auntie and translating it, he proudly delivered it to work one morning with our produce.
Flan is a dessert found in many cultures and cuisines across the world (creme caramel in France, crema caramella in Italy, quesillo in South America) but most often associated with Spain and the countries it colonized during the early era of sea exploration. The signature of flan is the caramel used to coat the cooking mold and top the firm custard once it is released from the pan. This recipe comes from Cuba and the Caribbean influence is reflected in the use of sweetened condensed milk.