6 individual flans made in 6-ounce molds or 4 made in 8-ounce molds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, preferably Mexican
- Choose 6 six-ounce or 4 eight-ounce molds—custard cups, coffee cups or individual soufflé dishes. Set them into a baking pan at least 2 inches deep and large enough to give the molds at least ½ inch clearance all around.
- Put ¾ cup of the sugar into a small (1- to 1 ½-quart) saucepan. Dribble 1/3 cup water around and over the sugar, evenly moistening it, then set on medium-high heat. When the mixture comes to a full boil, wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water (this dissolves any clinging sugar crystals). Reduce the heat to medium and boil without stirring until the syrup begins to turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Now, carefully start gently swirling the pan over the heat until the syrup is a deep straw color. Remove from the heat and continue swirling until the color is a rich amber. Quickly pour a portion of caramel into each one of the molds. Immediately tilt the molds to evenly cover the bottom with caramel
- Heat the oven to 325º, position the oven rack in the middle. In a medium-size (2 ½- to 3-quart) saucepan, mix the remaining ¼ cup sugar, milk and condensed milk. Set over medium heat, and stir as the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks until liquidy, then slowly whisk in the warm milk mixture. Stir in the vanilla and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher or bowl. Pour or ladle a portion of the custard mixture into each of the molds.
- Pull out the oven rack and set the pan holding the filled molds onto it. Carefully pour simmering water into the baking pan, letting it fill around the molds to a depth of about 2 inches. Carefully push the rack into the oven, close the door and bake until the custards are barely set in the middle, 50 to 60 minutes for small molds, 60 to 70 minutes for larger ones.
- Let the custards cool in their hot water baths, which will take about an hour, so they slowly set completely.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. To serve, run a small knife around the top edge of each flan, penetrating about ½ inch below the surface. Quickly turn each mold over onto a serving plate. One by one, grasp plate and mold firmly and shake up-and-down, back-and-forth, until you hear the flan drop onto the plate. Remove the mold and scrape out sticky dissolving caramel from the inside, letting it drizzle down on the flan. Dessert’s ready.