Why You Need Whole Eggs Plus Extra Yolks For The Best Flan

Making the perfect flan is a feat quite scary for even the most experienced cooks. Yet it turns out that the ideal method exists so that even a beginner can nail this custard each time, from texture to taste. If done properly, you should have a beautifully silky dessert by the end of the cooking process. So if you're keen to achieve what's possibly the best flan you'll ever eat, pay attention to your egg proportions, for therein lies your solution.

If you're unfamiliar with it, flan is essentially an egg-based custard. Think of it as a cross between creme brulee and a mousse. Traditionally, you add milk (and sugar) to eggs to achieve this dessert, so there's a prevalent creamy element to it. But say you want to prepare flan from scratch, how do you do it? Let's take the edge off this seemingly complicated dessert by simmering it down to three simple steps — caramelize, make the custard, then bake. If it seems straightforward, that's because it is.

The first step is to caramelize sugar and pour it into ramekins. The second step is to make a custard using eggs, milk, and sugar. The third and final step is to bake the custard into a flan using a water bath. Typically, whole eggs are what's required to give flan a semi-solid structure. But we want a flan that stands apart from the rest, and to do that, we must tweak the ratio of whole eggs to egg yolks.

How to achieve the best flan

Here's the bit of science that matters. Egg white contains more protein than egg yolk. This means that in a flan where you use whole eggs, you'll end up with quite a bit of protein. And more protein equals a firmer flan. Now, there's nothing wrong with that. Many traditional recipes call for whole eggs when making flan. But if you're going for the best flan, you'll need more fat. That's where egg yolks come in.

Due to their higher fat content, egg yolks give flan a creamier texture. What better way, then, to achieve the best texture than to increase the amount of egg yolk in your custard mixture? So, while your favorite Cuban flan recipe may indeed be a showstopping dessert, it may fare better with a couple of whole eggs being replaced by an equal number of egg yolks. Or, by using half the amount of whole eggs and the other half as egg yolks.

The bottom line is that a compromise of whole eggs and egg yolks is essential to achieving the best flan. Whole eggs will contribute to a firm texture, while egg yolks will add richness. A combination of both strikes the perfect balance between taste and mouthfeel, giving you a flawless flan. That said, you can test and see how this formula measures up against that of a decadent layered chocolate flan. For, in this case, beauty lies solely in the mouth of the beholder.