Updated Friday, January 31st, 2014
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Hands On Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
If the words “custard” and “caramel” sound intimidating, fear not: This creamy Mexican flan is as easy to make as a smoothie, and our step-by-step guide to making caramel will boost your confidence. The result: Silken puddings glazed with richly flavored amber sauce.
Preheat your oven to 325° and set a rack to the middle position. Set six 6-ounce flan molds or ramekins into a baking dish with sides at least 2 inches high. (A standard 9x13-inch pan works well.)
Next, make the caramel: Set a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, water, and cinnamon, and stir as the sugar begins to melt. Once the mixture starts to bubble, stop stirring (to avoid crystallizing the mixture). Instead, swirl the pan to blend. Cook until the caramel turns a deep amber color and thickens noticeably, 5 to 6 minutes.
Pour a bit of caramel into each ramekin, swirling it to coat all sides. Let cool.
In the jar of a blender, combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt; then blend until smooth, about 15 seconds. Set aside.
Pour the custard gently into the ramekins, dividing it as evenly as possible; then transfer the baking dish to the oven. Pour enough very hot tap water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the custards are set (a knife will come out clean), about 40 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and set ramekins individually on a wire rack to cool for 25 minutes. Gently run a thin-tipped knife blade around the edges of the custards to loosen them; then turn each ramekin upside-down on a serving plate. Lift each ramekin, garnish custards with pumpkin seeds, and serve.
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