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Bear Leche Flan

Super creamy, smooth custard topped with a rich, golden caramel sauce! This 5-ingredient leche flan recipe (7, if adding bear decorations) is fun to make and always a hit at my family parties. Thanks, mom, for the recipe! 🙂

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If you haven’t heard of flan before, it is a very popular dessert found in many countries around the world. There’s Spanish flan, Mexican flan, Cuban flan, and Puerto Rican flan. In Japan, it’s known as purin. In France, creme caramel. Brazil & Portugal call it pudim. And in the Philippines, it’s known as leche flan. They differ by the types of milk used, whole eggs vs egg yolks, etc.

Those were only a few of the many countries that have their own variation of flan. But what they all have in common is that each flan is an egg custard topped with a rich caramel sauce. All are so delicious and loved by many worldwide. I mean, they must be, since there are so many different kinds out there!

And now here I am, sharing my mom’s own leche flan recipe! She originally gave it to me because I was living away from home and was really craving it. Her recipe is loved by my entire family, our friends, and literally anyone who tries it. It’s such a smooth, silky, creamy leche flan recipe. Not too sweet with the perfect amount of caramel. So, of course I was ecstatic to try it out myself, and later put it up on my blog. 🙂

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • You only need 5 ingredients! Or 7, if you turn the leche flan into a bear. You’ll need sugar, evaporated milk, condensed milk, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. If you’re adding bear decorations, you’ll need milk/dark chocolate and white chocolate.
  • It’s straightforward and easy to make. Making caramel and custard from scratch may sound daunting, but it’s quite simple! When I found out how easy it was, I was pleasantly surprised. You will be too.
  • The design is cute. Why make regular-shaped flan, when you can have one that looks like a teddy bear? 🙂

So, if you’re interested in making this creamy flan recipe yourself, keep on reading!

Equipment

For the flan mixture:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Hand whisk
  • Sieve: To get extra smooth flan, you’ll want to pass the liquid into a sieve.
  • Baking dish: I used a baking dish made for leche flan, known as a llanera. You really just need a baking dish that can hold 3 cups of the batter. In the past, I used shallow baking pans and cut out a bunch of different shapes to make multiple bears, which were a bit thinner. The flan doesn’t puff up or rise when baking, so however tall the liquid is in the baking dish is how tall the finished product will be! If cutting out bear shapes, mentally map it out with your cookie cutters. Make sure there’s enough surface area to cut out the head and 2 ears.
  • Larger roasting pan: This will be for your water bath to bake the flan in, so the tray should be able to hold your baking dish and a few inches of water.
  • Toothpick: To make sure flan is done baking.
  • Knife or off-set spatula: To run along the sides of the baked flan so it loosens before flipping.

for the bear decorations:

  • Circle cookie cutters: One larger and one smaller one, for the head and ears.
  • Small microwave-safe bowls: To melt the chocolates.
  • Small silicone spatulas: For mixing the melted chocolates.
  • Piping bags: You can alternatively use toothpicks or Ziploc bags.
  • Scissors
  • Parchment or wax paper: I piped the decorations on wax paper. Once they dried, I transferred them to the finished flan!

Ingredients

For the flan mixture:

  • Egg yolks
  • Evaporated milk
  • Condensed milk
  • Vanilla extract

You’ll also need water to make a water bath for your flan.

for the bear decorations:

  • Milk/dark chocolate: For the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • White chocolate: For the inner ears and snout.

How to make leche flan

  • Mise en place: aka “put in place”. This French saying simply means measure out all of the ingredients and prep your equipment beforehand. This will help you stay more organized and move more seamlessly in the kitchen while you follow this recipe.
  • Make the caramel: Add sugar to a saucepan and melt it over low-medium heat until fully dissolved. Pour into baking dish and place into your baking tray, which will be for the water bath later. Allow the caramel to harden while you make the custard.
  • Make the egg custard: Gently whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla until fully combined. While whisking, add evaporated milk.
  • Pass through sieve: Pour the mixture through a sieve to get rid of any clumps. You can pass it through the sieve into another bowl with a spout then pour it to your baking dish. OR you can directly pass it into your baking dish with the hardened caramel.
  • Bake: Cover the dish with foil or baking dish lid. Add a 2-3 inches of water into the baking tray to make the water bath and bake for 45-60 minutes. The baking time will vary with the size baking dish you use, but check the flan after 45 minutes by sticking a cake tester or toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, you can remove the flan and let it cool. If it doesn’t come out clean, continue baking and check it every 5-10 minutes until done.
  • Let cool and refrigerate: Let the flan cool (lid on) at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then, transfer to fridge until fully chilled, at least 2 hours.
  • Remove from baking dish: Loosen the edges by running an offset spatula on the sides of the flan. Place a rimmed plate (to catch all the caramel) on top of the baking dish, then completely flip over. If flan doesn’t come out, tap the sides.
  • Cut out bear shapes: Use cookie cutters to cut out a head and ears. Transfer them to your serving dish. Feel free to eat the scraps or blend them to make custard cream!
  • Decorate: Use melted chocolates to draw inner ears, eyes, and the snout on parchment/wax paper. Once fully dried, transfer the chocolate to the bear. And that’s it—enjoy!

FAQs

How long does flan last?

It should last in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months, just let it thaw in the fridge overnight!

How do I know when flan is done?

The top should be fairly jiggly when moved, but set at the same time. If you stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean, it is done. Plus, the middle should not be liquidy at all. So if there’s a puddle of liquid, keep baking it!

Once the flan cools at room temperature and chills in the fridge, it’ll fully set and firm up.

Why did my flan crack/why is it wrinkly?

This may be due to it cooking too quickly, which should be solved by the water bath method. It also may be overcooked.

What has helped me greatly in the kitchen is using an oven thermometer to ensure I’m baking at the right temperature. It’s especially helpful for older ovens, which may no longer run accurately.

Storage

Keep the caramel custard covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months and let thaw in the fridge overnight.

Other Filipino recipes

I really hope you enjoy this recipe. If you make this caramel custard, I’d love to see it. You can tag me at #bitesbybianca / @bitesbybianca on Instagram. Enjoy! 🙂

📖 Recipe

Bear-shaped leche flan

Bear-Shaped Leche Flan

Bites by Bianca
Super creamy, smooth custard topped with a rich, golden caramel sauce! This 5-ingredient leche flan recipe (7, if adding bear decorations) is fun to make and always a hit at my family parties. Thanks, mom, for the recipe! 🙂
4.92 from 12 votes
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cooling time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 6 people
Calories 503 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 hand whisk
  • 1 sieve to strain batter
  • 1 baking dish or llanera please see recipe notes!!
  • 2 circle cookie cutters for bear design; one for the head and one for the ears
  • 1 roasting pan for your water bath; make sure it can hold your baking dish and 2-3 inches of water in the pan
  • 1 toothpick to check if flan is done baking
  • 1 knife or offset spatula to loosen the sides of the baked flan before flipping

Ingredients

Caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar

Flan:

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Decorations:

  • melted white and milk/dark chocolate

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C.

For the caramel:

  • **Tip: The caramel hardens quite fast, so make sure you have your baking dish near you so you can immediately pour the caramel into them!
    In a saucepan, add 1 cup sugar and cook over low-medium heat. Do not stir the sugar, but do occasionally swirl the pan while cooking until all of the sugar dissolves. Once fully dissolved and the liquid is golden, pour caramel into the baking dish, evenly covering the bottom. You can tilt the baking dish to distribute the caramel around. Try to not make the layer too thick.
  • Place baking dishes into a larger roasting pan, which will be used as a water bath later. While the caramel hardens, work on the flan.

For the flan:

  • In a medium mixing bowl, add 8 egg yolks, 14 oz sweetened condensed milk, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract. Whisk together until fully combined.
  • Slowly add 12 oz evaporated milk while whisking.
  • To make extra smooth flan, strain the mixture by pouring it into another container through a fine mesh sieve. I like to strain mine into my 4 cup liquid measuring cup, since this recipe makes about 3 cups of liquid and the measuring cup has a spout for easy handling!
  • Pour flan mixture into baking dish with the hardened caramel.
  • Pour water into roasting pan so that the baking dishes are sitting in 2-3 inches of water. Cover the baking dishes with aluminum foil or baking dish lid.
  • Place roasting pan with covered flan into the preheated oven.
    Depending on the size of your baking dish, baking time may vary from 45-60 minutes. At the 45 minute mark, check if the flan is done: the center should still jiggle slightly, but the top should feel a bit firm to the touch. There should not be a puddle of liquid on the surface.
    Stick a cake tester or toothpick in the middle of the flan. If it comes out clean, it can be removed from the oven. If not, check flan every 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and take baking dishes out of the roasting pan, placing them on a cooling rack. Allow to cool until room temperature for at least 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.
  • Run knife around the edges of the flan to loosen it, then invert the dish onto a rimmed tray (to catch the extra caramel) lined with parchment paper.
    Some hard caramel will stick to the baking dish—it's completely normal and happens to most people. For easier clean up, soak the dish in hot water, changing the water whenever it cools down.

To decorate:

  • Use one larger circular cookie cutter to cut out the bear's head, then a smaller one to cut out two ears. Place the head and ears onto your serving dish.
    You can eat the scraps or blend them to make a custard cream :~)
  • Melt white and milk/dark chocolate and pour into their own piping bags. I recommend piping the face designs on parchment/wax paper, letting them harden, then transferring to flan.
    Snip a small opening off the piping bags and use the white to make the snout, then the inner ears. Use the milk/dark chocolate to add the nose, mouth, and eyes.
    **Tip: If needed, use a scribe or toothpick to help move the milk/dark chocolate around for the mouth.

Notes

Baking dish/llanera:The batter makes 3 cups of liquid, so make sure the baking dish can hold more than that! If making a bear-shaped flan, make sure to mentally map it out with your cookie cutters to ensure there’s enough surface area to cut out one head and two ears. 
You can eat the scraps or blend them to make a leche flan cream for other desserts!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 503kcalCarbohydrates: 76gProtein: 13gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 299mgSodium: 158mgPotassium: 454mgSugar: 76gVitamin A: 663IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 373mgIron: 1mg
Keyword bear cookies, character food, Filipino, Filipino dessert, flan, leche flan
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