Flan-tastic Voyage | Crème Caramel

Indulge your sweet tooth at the Valley's newest dessert shop

If you've had one flan (a.k.a. custard, a.k.a. crème caramel) you've had them all, right?

That's what we thought until we tried pastry chef Kristine de la Cruz's version at her new Van Nuys dessert shop, Crème Caramel.

Intensely creamy but light as a feather, her vanilla crème caramel ($4.50) is a unique French-Filipino hybrid, a riff on a family recipe. "The flavor is like Filipino leche flan but the texture is airy like a French custard," says de la Cruz.

Kristine de la Cruz serving a slice

Cross-cultural additions to the classic dessert, such as Thai tea, Mexican hot chocolate, and buko pandan (young coconut with pandan leaves), really caught our attention. Still, the shop's biggest seller–and our favorite–was a colorful ube (purple yam) "upside-down pie" dusted with graham cracker and brown sugar ($5). Created after flipping an over-browned batch of custard and topping it with a bruleéd crust, de la Cruz's "accident" resulted in an impromptu stroke of genius.

Pumpkin-white chocolate bread pudding

Other pastries include pumpkin-white chocolate bread pudding ($5.50) made from custard-soaked brioche, dense breakfast quiches and savory scones ($3 to $5), like one fortified with Chinese sausage and diced scallions.

With dozens of local products currently lining the walls, from watermelon jam to caramel popcorn, de la Cruz soon envisions her store as an "urban bodega for artisan goods."

Count us among her biggest flans.