It is rare that you eat something you love at a restaurant and then re-create almost perfectly at home. This cheesecake flan is one of those recipes. We used to frequent Cafe Habana in New York City regularly and fell in love with the cheesecake flan that they served for dessert. Their food is quite tasty (killer Cuban sandwiches and grilled corn “Mexican” style), but it was that flan that kept bringing us back. As luck would have it, Food & Wine magazine shared the recipe shortly after we “discovered” the restaurant.
As the name suggests, it is an intriguing cross between a flan and a cheesecake. If you like both (as we do) then this is a match made in heaven. However, if you find flan a little too jiggly and insubstantial and cheesecake a little bit too rich and heavy, this combination might win you over. I once watched my mother polish off the last two of these and use her elbows to keep us away from taking any bites. It is that kind of dessert – the kind that brings out the worst in people. I also watched Ria and her little friend who came over for lunch, both inhale the dessert without even looking up even though they were “full”. Play dates at our house come with some pretty awesome treats if you come over on the right day. 🙂
When I am not feeling lazy (my regular caramel flan recipe consists of 4 ingredients and can be made with your eyes closed), I make this cheesecake flan for a mind-blowing end to an elegant meal. Not that this recipe is difficult at all. The hardest part is probably un-molding the flan from the ramekin (especially when you are drunk at the end of a dinner party) without damaging it. Damaged or not, it is till a thing of beauty.
Cheesecake Flan from Food & Wine (a Cafe Habana recipe)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese (7 ounces)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Boiling water
- Whipped cream and fresh berries, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 275°. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice and cook over moderately low heat until an amber caramel forms, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately pour the hot caramel into six 1-cup ramekins, swirling them to coat the bottoms.
- In a blender, combine the cream cheese with the condensed and evaporated milks, half-and-half, eggs and vanilla and blend on medium speed until smooth. Refrigerate the custard for 10 minutes, skim off the foam and pour the custard into the prepared ramekins.
- Set the ramekins in a small roasting pan; add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake the flans for about 1 1/2 hours or until they are set and a toothpick inserted in the centers come out almost clean. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.
- To unmold each flan, set the bottom of the ramekin in a pan of hot water for about 1 minute. Run a thin blade around the edge of the flan and cover with a plate. Invert the plate and shake once or twice; the flan should release easily. Serve with whipped cream and berries.