How many types of flan are there?
... and how does it differ in each country.
Last night at an authentic Mexican restaurant ... not dumbed down or Americanized food ... I had a flan that was different than anything I had ... dense and like a piece of cheesecake.
A poster suggested it might be flan Napolitano. While looking up information on that I came across many types of flan some of which were mentioned in this blog which has a recipe for flan de queso ...
"There are as may variation of flan as there are households and countries ... Then there are the modified versions of flan: coconut flan, flan de dulce de leche, flan de queso de cabra, pumpkin flan, pineapple flan, flan de naranja ... Then there are the modified versions that include Queso Caraqueño or Flan Napolitano"
On another site someone said of flan de dulce de leche that " It was godly"
In the SF thread Eat_Nopal writes ...
"As far as I can tell, Flan variations become popular in the late '80s. Of all the variations the only ones that have really become classics (at least in Mexico) are Coconut, Kahlua & Chocolate (Napolitano goes back much further... and is definitely a classic)."
That must have been the influence on the pretty rose petal flan that sounds lovely.
This site has recipes for a lot of types of flan including a microwave version. Though I'm thinking the Caramel Kisses Flan would be a killer given what sounds like sugar overload.
Nice little history of flan here and some recipes for savory flans.
The food timeline has some history too and mentions eel flan ... yikes. In Britain it is a totally different thing ... "an open pastry or sponge case containing a (sweet or savoury) filling."
And from across the Pacific, there's the Filipino leche flan. Like many of the flans in other countries, it is baked in a caramel-lined pan, in a bain marie. Recipes vary with each family: some use whole eggs, some use more yolks than whites, some use only yolks. Milk--fresh, evaporated, and/or condensed--and sugar are the other common denominators. My grandmother would throw in one or two duck eggs along with the chicken eggs, use water buffalo milk (which is richer than ordinary milk), and then add a touch of the rind of dayap, an aromatic local lime. My grandmother made a dense flan, which requires more egg yolks, while some other relations preferred a flan that barely held together.
In Chile, flan is often made with dulce de leche (manjar) instead of the caramel that is common in Spain and elsewhere in Latin America. Same in Argentina I think.
I have had flan in several Latin American countries, as well as at lots of restaurants and homes in the US, and it's hard to make too many generalizations. For instance, in Ecuador, I have had flan that is more like the Spanish style that Sra. Swanky describes. On the other hand, my Ecuadoran host mother's flan always contained a lot of vanilla, and it's more cake-like (and more eggy) than Spanish-style flan that I've had (and even other flans I ate in Ecuador). But I think this might be a personal preference of my host mother (as opposed to a generalization about Ecuadoran flan).
I've noticed some differences between 2 countries in particular - Spain & Dominican Republic.
Spanish flan is a true gelatinous, custardy treat - with a very yummy caramel sauce that covers the top. It usually separates very well & is jiggly when you shake it.
Dominican flan is more pudding-like: rich & creamy. Not too much of a jiggle. My students' parents from DR tell me that leche condensada (sweetened condensed milk - sometimes heated to become dulce de leche) is a main ingredient, along with the eggs. There's usually no caramel syrup poured over the top, not that it needs it!
The recipe for flan de queso with the cream cheese was interesting. Namely because I've eaten what's called flan de queso at restaurants and at friends' homes and they've all told me that it's just a name. The flan is as thick and rich as cheese, but has no cheese in its composition.