This is my lola's recipe, passed down to her daughters and then to me. The best way I can describe it is that is tastes like more. Velvety, creamy, and rich, it's the kind of dessert that has you coming back to the fridge every hour to shave another sliver off.
Leche flan is traditionally steamed in the Philippines (where ovens were uncommon for many years), but baking it in a water bath is a great alternative if you don’t have a steamer.
For more stories, memories, and extended histories behind your most-loved, treasured family recipes from the column, check out our new podcast My Family Recipe. —Giselle Krachenfels
Whisk egg yolks gently, then add condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract and stir until combined. (If you whisk too hard, you'll get little bubbles in your flan.)
Add the sugar and water to a pot over medium heat and cook until sugar dissolves. Lower heat and cook, shaking pan (don't stir!) until dark golden brown. Pour melted sugar into a baking pan (I used a 9-inch cake pan) and tilt pan around until evenly coated. Let set for a few minutes until it hardens.
Pour the milk and egg mixture through a fine sieve into the pan, on top of the caramel. Take a baking tray or dish—anything that is large enough to fit your flan—and place the pan inside. Pour about an inch of boiling water into the large, outside tray. Put the tray (with the pan inside) into the oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, around 50 to 60 minutes.
Remove the pan from the water bath and let cool. Then, refrigerate until cold. (Don't rush this! If it it's too warm, it might fall apart.) Once cold, run a knife around the edges. Invert onto a rimmed serving plate (there will be extra syrup that flows around it).