How to Make Vietnamese Creme Caramel – Banh Flan
Banh Flan is a custard of delicate silkiness coated in a deep, amber-hued caramel. The caramel, subtly imbued with bitterness, perfectly counters the custard’s inherent sweetness, creating a wonderfully balanced dessert experience.
Making this traditional Vietnamese crème caramel is surprisingly easy in just a few steps. However, as straightforward as the process may seem, it’s not without potential pitfalls. Various elements could compromise the outcome if not handled with care. Successfully crafting a Banh Flan requires attention to detail and understanding the ingredients and procedures. Let’s delve into what could happen and how to prevent such mishaps.
- 3 large eggs + 2 egg yolks (5 in total)
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 3 tsp water
- 600ml milk ( or full-cream milk)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Instant Coffee: This can be optionally added to the caramel sauce to introduce a hint of bitterness. It works wonders in counterbalancing the sweet, creamy characteristics of the custard, thereby enriching the overall flavor profile of the Banh Flan.
Importance of Selecting the Right Molds
When selecting molds for your Banh Flan, size does matter. Smaller molds equate to reduced cooking time, meaning your dessert will be prepared in a flash. However, it’s crucial to be aware that these petite molds are more susceptible to the formation of unappealing bubbles and the risk of overcooking. Therefore, careful attention and time management are key when using smaller molds.
Generally, you’ll want to opt for deeper ramekins, about 5 cm or 2 inches in depth. This is because the Banh Flan tends to collapse slightly under its weight once it’s been unmolded and placed on a plate. Therefore, a deeper ramekin can help maintain your dessert’s structure and aesthetic appeal.
The molds you will be using for this recipe should ideally have a capacity of around 150 ml each. Since this recipe prepares around 900 ml of Banh Flan, you’ll need approximately six molds to accommodate the full quantity.
It’s important to mention that when dividing the Banh Flan mixture among the molds, filling a few molds is more beneficial than thinly spreading the mixture across too many molds. This approach ensures each serving of the desert maintains the right consistency and texture.
Making the Caramel
Combine the sugar and water in a petite saucepan and situate the pan over medium heat. Watch the mixture for approximately 3-5 minutes as you look for the caramel to develop a rich amber hue.
Once it has reached this point, promptly remove the saucepan from the heat and pour it into the baking mold.
If you’ve chosen to introduce a dash of bitterness with instant coffee, now is the time to incorporate it. Stir the instant coffee into your sumptuously rich, amber-hued caramel until fully dissolved.
Making the Custard part
- Prepare your oven for baking by setting it to preheat at a temperature of 150C/300F.
- Crack three whole eggs, add two egg yolks and vanilla into a bowl. Whisk them gently to avoid creating bubbles. Meanwhile, place a pot on the stove, and pour in condensed and fresh milk, stirring until they’re well combined at 70 C / 158 F.
- Once the mixture is well combined, heat it until it comes to a rolling boil, then turn off the stove. Gradually pour the milk into the egg bowl, stirring continuously as you pour.
- After the milk mixture has reached a boiling point, remove it from the heat. Slowly introduce the egg concoction to it by pouring it through a sieve. Continuously stir the mixture while adding the eggs.
- For the second time, pass the custard mixture through a sieve to ensure a smooth texture, free from any lumps. Once strained, carefully transfer the custard into the caramel-coated molds, filling them to the top.
- After filling the molds with the custard, tap them gently on the counter a few times to release any trapped air bubbles. Then, cover each mold with aluminum foil, making sure to poke a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape during the baking process.
- Arrange the custard-filled molds on the towel within the baking tray. Carefully pour lukewarm water into the baking tray until it reaches halfway up the sides of the molds. Avoid hot water, which may cause the custard to cook too quickly and unevenly.
- Bake for about 30 minutes.
- Once the baking process is complete, carefully remove the molds from the oven and allow the Banh Flan to cool completely. For an even more enjoyable experience, refrigerate the dessert for at least 4 hours before serving. This cooling period further enhances the texture and flavor of the Banh Flan, making it all the more delightful.
- Be sure to use a deep or roasting pan when baking the custard mix to prevent spillage from boiling water coming into contact with the custard.
- Stirring too much or stirring excessively while making the caramel can cause it to crystallize and become grainy, so stir as little as possible.
- Be sure to cook the caramel until it turns an amber color but do not overcook; otherwise, it may turn bitter.
- When pouring the caramel over the custard, be sure to pour it quickly and evenly. The caramel may stick to one area and form a clump if done too slowly.
- Allow the custard to cool completely before serving for best results!
Banh Flan is a versatile dish that can easily be adapted with different flavorings and toppings. Here are some ideas:
- Add 1 teaspoon of matcha or cocoa powder to the egg mixture for a green tea or chocolate flan.
- Dust the top with ground peanuts, coconut flakes, sesame seeds or crushed macadamia nuts before serving.
- Drizzle honey on top for an extra touch of sweetness.
- For a tart flavor contrast, serve with fresh fruits such as mango, strawberry or raspberry.
- Add heavy cream in place of evaporated milk for an even creamier custard.
- Add grated orange or lemon zest to the egg mixture for a citrus twist.
Vietnamese crème caramel, or Banh Flan, is a classic dessert whose sweet and salty flavor combinations will leave your tastebuds wanting more. With some patience and attention to detail, you’ll easily create the perfect Banh Flan!
Banh Flan can also make a delicious addition to your regular breakfast rotation. Paired with hot coffee or tea is the perfect way to start your day right! And as if that weren’t enough, you can also use Banh Flan as an interesting and unexpected twist for pie recipes such as chocolate or blueberry. Give it a try – there’s no limit to what you can do with this delicious treat!
I’m Godfrey Jensen, CEO and head chef at Lapps Meats. We’re a top-quality butcher with over 70 years of experience. Our goal is to provide our customers with the best, freshest products possible. We take our food seriously, and we love serving the community by providing them with quality meat products.