Rose Petal Flan

Have you ever encountered a stubborn teenager who outright refuses to eat something new, in spite of everyone telling her how good it is? At some point you just give up and say, “oh have it your way, all the more for the rest of us.”

I was that stubborn teenager one summer in Mexico City, surrounded by my host family pleading with me to try this weird looking dish that they had translated as “burnt milk”. I’m forever grateful my friend’s mother Señora Argüelles didn’t give up on me that day. After finally submitting to one bite, I ate all that remained in the pot. Ever since that day flan is one dessert that I simply cannot refuse.

This recipe makes a fabulous flan, giving you the scent of roses with every bite. (Perfect for Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?) The recipe is adapted from the cookbook Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking from the Doña Tomas restaurant in Oakland, California.

Rose Petal Flan Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water

Custard

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rose water*

Special items needed

  • 4 6-ounce ramekins

*Rose water can be found in Mediterranean markets and also Whole Foods in the baking department. According to the Doña Tomàs book you can also make your own by boiling a cup of rose petals (fresh from a garden, not store-bought, no pesticides, no fungicides) in a cup of water with a tablespoon of honey, for 10 minutes. Let steep overnight and then strain. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Method

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1 Have your ramekins ready, near the stove. When you pour out the caramelized sugar you will want to work fast. Place the sugar and water in a small, thick-bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium heat. As the sugar beings to melt, gently stir with a wooden spoon to break up unmelted lumps. Once the sugar has melted it will begin to turn golden and then darker brown. As soon as it turns a strong shade of reddish brown, remove the pan from the heat, working quickly, evenly divide the sugar between the ramekins, coating the bottom of each ramekin. Place the ramekins in a 2-inch deep baking dish.

2 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan, on medium high heat, mix sugar and milk until the milk is warm to the touch and the sugar has completely dissolved (about 120°F). Do not let the milk boil. Remove from heat. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and rose water. Temper the egg mixture with a little (about 1/4 cup) of the warm milk mixture, whisking as you add the milk. Add the egg mixture back into the pan of milk. Lower the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture in for a minute until the egg mixture is fully incorporated.

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3 Pour custard mixture into the ramekins, up to about 1/4-inch from the top edge of the ramekins. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.

4 Bake on the middle rack until centers of flans are gently set, about 45 minutes. Transfer flans to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)

rose-flan-7.jpg5 To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release flan. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over flan. Repeat with remaining flans and serve. If you have refrigerated the flan over night and the flan won't easily release, you can heat it in the microwave for a few seconds (10-15) to loosen it.

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Recipe adapted from the Flan de Rosas recipe in Doña Tomàs: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking

32 Comments

  1. CurlyCook

    I am of Portuguese heritage and we make flan the same way, but use orange and lemon zest for flavour instead of rosewater. For sure one of my favourite traditional desserts :)

  2. Lisa C.

    Growing up in a farm in Brazil meant the ingredients for flan were readily available and as a result we had the dessert often. I remember detesting the texture of it and would not eat it. Just last weekend I visited my mom and you guessed it: she had flan! I decided to give it another shot and fell in love instantly! I can’t believe I passed it up all those years when it was made with the freshest ingredients! I guess I was also the stubborn kid…
    Anyway, my mom adds flaked coconut to the custard sometimes. Since I just learned that I love flan and last weekend’s batch did not have coconut, I’m not sure how it tastes. However, my Dad and siblings swear by it. So coconut lovers out there, here is another twist you can try. Enjoy!

  3. Ana

    We have a family recipe for flan which I’ve never learned, but I did learn one trick. The way you know when the sugar is done is when it is the same color as peanut butter. Any darker than that, and its burnt. And nothing ruins flan like burnt sugar.

  4. Kate

    I made this dish for my boyfriend for Valentine’s day, and it was absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t taste the rose water at all, though, which made me a little sad. I think the milk just kind of overwhelmed the taste. It was also a touch sweet for me, but I cannot claim that I have a sweet tooth, so I find most things too sweet. When I make it again, I’ll have to up the amount of rosewater and decrease the sugar by a touch, and see what happens.

  5. ksklein

    Thanks for this recipe. I made them today and we’ll have them for dinner. I’m really curious how they turned out.
    I think I may have burnt my caramel. :(

  6. Cris

    Elise, a very similar recipe is so popular in Brazil. Glad to know it is one of your favorites too. Were you an exchange student in Mexico? Thanks.

  7. Kimberly at Some Bunny's Love

    Interesting version in my recipe — only eggs yolks are used. But I can guess that my husband would prefer your flan over my Filipino version. No idea why, but he hates that flan type. And yes, that means I get to eat it all!
    =:8

  8. paraks

    I’ve seen other flan recipies that call for condensed and evaporated milk (haven’t tried them tho’).
    The recipe you used is very like a caramel custard pudding.
    What’s the difference?
    Thanks

  9. Tri

    I am huge fan of flan too. It’s funny how different nationalities have a different take on it. In Vietnam it is sometimes made with a touch of coffee. I’ve also heard that orange zest is a great addition. My mom says that the key to perfect flan is to not overcook it or it becomes more of a custard. Your version looks delicious. Can’t wait to try it out!

  10. guchi

    In Argentina we eat flan with dulce de leche (similar to caramel) You should try it!

  11. ksklein

    Well, I burnt the caramel a bit, but anyway this was one of the best flans I have ever had and the first one I made myself. And in every way perfect! :)
    A keeper!

  12. David Hagadol

    I convinced my wife to marry me after I cooked Flan (with orange zest and grated coconut) for her!

  13. Elise

    I think a lot of flan recipes call for sweetened condensed milk because in parts of Latin America where refrigeration can a challenge, those cans of sweetened milk are a great way to store it. I’ve also had flan made with cream, but frankly, it is just too rich for even me. I love this recipe because it is so easy and the result is so light. The rose water offers just a hint of roses. Regarding the rose water, I went out and bought some at Whole Foods, about $3 for a bottle. Though I would love to try making rose water sometime.

    Great comment on the marriage proposal. Good flan is quite seductive, isn’t it. :-)

  14. Elise

    Cris – I wasn’t exactly an exchange student, but I did spend half a summer studying Spanish in Cuernavaca and Mexico City while at University. I have many relatives on my mother’s side who are Mexican who I met through my grandparents. I wanted to learn Spanish so I could more easily converse with them when I visited Mexico. Alas, that was almost 30 years ago and I’ve forgotten most of it. :-( And with my grandmother’s passing a year ago, most of that generation is gone now too.

  15. Gluten-Free By The Bay

    Hi there – Why am I not shocked that this recipe is inspired by Dona Tomas, one of the tastiest restaurants ever? ;-P

  16. Cris

    Elise, I am sure that the time you spent in Mexico made a difference in your life… I was an AFS exchange student in the US, 20 years ago (wow!!!) and that really made a difference… I can imagine my life now going two separate ways: before the trip and after the trip, and the friends I made there and all over the world… it is amazing how another culture can have such a positive influence in our lives… Have a nice weekend!

  17. rick

    Great flan. I garnished with rose petals and a bit of sweet rose salsa. Totally delish.

  18. Margaret

    Love, love flan. One of my very favorite desserts. Thank you for the recipe. Margaret :)

  19. Lisa S.

    Happy Birthday, Elise – 2008!

    Flan is the best dessert ever made. The site thespicehouse.com has rose water (and the pomegranite molasses for the cassis chicken you featured a few weeks ago) and nearly every other extract and spice you could need for your recipes with reasonable prices and package options.

    PS, I made my own pomegranite molassas and it turned out perfectly.

  20. marina

    I just made this flan and the flavor and consistency were wonderful. The caramel didn’t turn out as caramel, though; it stayed at the bottom of the ramekins, hard and crystallized. I don’t know what I did wrong.

  21. Yee

    I made this for the third time today simply because my husband loves it! The first time I made it, I used skim milk because that is all I had on hand. Both my hubbie and my friend love the consistency so I’ve been using skim instead of whole milk ever since. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  22. ann

    If Rick comes back, maybe he could share the recipe for sweet rose salsa?

    I’ve been able to find rose water in my local oriental grocery store, if that might help someone.

  23. Lucia

    This recipe sounds great but I was wondering if any one knows a recipe for flan on the stovetop? I love flan but I don’t have an oven.

    The first time I had flan it was made in a huge stock pot on the stove. The flan was just an inch at the bottom of the pan. I don’t know how they did it, I assume that the pan was on a burner with very low heat. Obviously, the flan wasn’t in a mold, so there was no turning out. We just scooped it up out of the pan and put it in a dish as is. ~Elise

  24. Irene U

    This recipe looks absolutely wonderful! I’ve tried a French version of flan that a family member of mine that had cream, and I’d say it was a bit rich for my taste… but the ingredients of this one make it seem like it’s going to have fantastic texture! I must try it and see how it differs from my own.

  25. steph

    I could have sworn I saw rose water in Belair in the ethnic section (or was it orange essence?) I was so happy they had it in stock even though I didn’t buy it. I will make this for Valentines Day. Can you use one pan instead of 4 ramekins? What size pan should it be, maybe a 9 inch pie dish. Thanks Elise!! :)

    Also I didn’t know Flan was called leche quemada in mexico?
    doesn’t Creme Brulee mean burnt cream/milk also?

    Hi Steph, your guess is as good as mine on the one pan versus ramekins. Good luck! ~Elise

  26. cecila

    thank you for such a yummy recipe.

    3 more variations….

    1.for a more creamy and thick flan use condense milk instead of regular milk and reduce sugar by half.

    2. to make flan come easily from ramekins, as you pour the hot caramel into the ramekins make sure that you carefully move it around so the caramel covers the wall of the ramekins as well.

    3. to make flan without an oven simply add corn starch and cook in medium heat until it thickens

  27. Moe

    Dear Elise

    Thanks for the awesome Recipe
    I like to add only one note, that the 1 teaspoon Rose Water
    are not enough to show the hint of it
    I think you should try 3 teaspoons to make sure that people
    taste the difference
    Thanks.

    I agree. I have updated the recipe. Thanks for the suggestion! ~Elise

  28. massy safai

    Great recipe. This was my brother’s favorite desert.
    massy

  29. oralia

    I have done this recipe before, but I used coconut milk instead of whole milk. I just love the coconut taste!! yum!

  30. Chayliana

    I don’t know what went wrong, but my sugar wouldn’t turn golden or caramelize. After nearly 10 minutes of simmering & stirring (over medium heat as instructed) it suddenly seized up on me & reverted back to dry crystallized sugar. I added another 2T water & 1/2 tsp butter & it returned to the simmering stage but still wouldn’t caramelize. After several minutes it seized up again, so I added 1T butter & turned up the heat, then it FINALLY melted & browned, but immediately hardened to peanut brittle consistency in the ramekin. They’re chilling now, so I don’t yet know what the end result will be.

    Sounds like you are using a sugar substitute like Splenda, and not real sugar. Real sugar melts. ~Elise

  31. AGS

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. Since I was making a flan for the first time, I halved the recipe. The texture was lovely but the custard was too sweet for my liking. Also, I did not have rose water so used rose syrup. I probably did not put enough since I could not taste the flavour.

    I will try again with less sugar & more rose syrup.

  32. AGS

    My mistake – I was too anxious to eat the flan so I did not let it chill for the recommended 2 hours. I tried the flan the next day and it was not too sweet with a hint of rose flavour! Lesson learnt!

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