Rum and caramel are great together, so it is no surprise that this Rum Flan is a particularly delicious twist on the classic custard dessert. The flan is rich because it is made with plenty of egg yolks (in fact, this recipe is a great way to use up the egg yolks leftover from baking an angel food cake) and it has a silky smooth texture. You’ll taste a nice dose of rum, balanced by a hint of vanilla and the naturally eggy custard. And since this is flan, there is a layer of addictive caramel on top of the whole thing.
You want your flan to be smooth, with few or no bubbles inside of the custard. These bubbles are the result of aeration in the custard base and/or overcooking. To avoid overcooking, be sure to bake your ramekins in a hot water bath and to check them for doneness a few minutes early by gently jiggling the ramekins. To avoid aeration in the batter, I recommend resting it for a few hours (or overnight) before baking to give any bubbles a chance to rise to the surface and pop on their own.
You can’t just use any old rum in these flans and expect to get the best results. Rum is a wonderfully complex category of spirits with more variety than any other category, from light white rums (great for mojitos) to aged rums that have notes of oak, vanilla and tropical fruits to molasses-flavored dark rums. The better your rum is, the better your flan will be – but that doesn’t mean that you need to use a $50 bottle of rum (though you can if you want to splurge), just that you should choose a flavorful one that will bring some dimension to your dessert. White rums, even those that have been aged, are not complex enough to bring a lot to this recipe. I used Zaya rum, a 12- year aged rum from Trinidad that has rich vanilla, toffee and molasses notes that really compliment the caramel of the flan. Plantation, Appleton Estate, Mount Gay, Flor de Cana and El Dorado (along with quite a few other brands) make reasonably priced aged rums that will all work well in this recipe. I wouldn’t recommend using anything labeled simply as “gold rum” or lacking an age statement on the label.
The flan should be allowed to cool completely in the water bath, then refrigerated before unmolding. While the flans can be eaten at room temperature, they will be easiest to unmold if you chill them first. I typically make these the night before I intend to serve them, then allow them to rest overnight in the refrigerator. To unmold, simply run a thin-tipped knife around the edge of the ramekin and invert into a small serving plate. The flans can be stored in the refrigerator (unmolded) for 2-3 days before serving.
12 egg yolks
1/2 cup aged or dark rum (recommend Zaya)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
topping: 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, rum and sugar until well-combined and smooth. Whisk in milk and heavy cream. Strain through a fine strainer to remove any unblended pieces of egg, then refrigerate batter in a covered container for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
In a medium saucepan or large skillet, combine sugar and water top make caramel topping. Cook over low heat until sugar is melted, then turn heat up to medium and cook until caramel becomes a dark amber color. Remove from heat and divide caramel evenly (as evenly as possible) into 8 8-oz ramekins, tilting the ramekins to evenly coat the bottoms with caramel. Allow caramel to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Arrange caramel-coated ramekins in one or two large baking dishes. Divide egg mixture evenly into the ramekins.
Bring some water to a simmer in a kettle or in a large measuring cup in the microwave. Fill the baking dish(es) containing the ramekins with hot water so that the water comes at least 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the custard is set but jiggles slightly when the ramekins are gently shaken.
Allow flan to cool completely in the ramekins without removing the ramekins from the water baths. Refrigerate until cold, or overnight, before serving.
Makes 8 servings.