Makes 8 (4-ounce) servings. Recipe by Fonville Winans is from “The Fonville Winans Cookbook: Recipes and Photographs from a Louisiana Artist” by Melinda Risch Winans and Cynthia LeJeune Nobles (LSU Press, October 2017). Make this recipe a day ahead.
3 cups whole milk
4 large or 5 small eggs
⅓ cup, plus ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (name brand)
½ teaspoon real almond extract
Just less than ¼ teaspoon salt
8 (5-inch) squares of aluminum foil
1. Put milk, eggs, ⅓ cup sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain and set aside.
2. Caramelize the remaining ½ cup sugar by placing it in a small cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and stirring constantly until it melts and just starts to foam. At the first inkling of foaming, remove from heat and keep stirring until it reaches an amber color.
3. Divide caramel among 8 oven-safe ½-cup custard cups. Top the caramel with the custard mixture. Center a foil square on top of each cup and wrap tightly down the outer sides of cups to form a tight, flat cover.
4. Stand cups in a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with at least 1-inch sides. Pour 1 quart of hot water into the pan around the cups. Water should reach a depth of ½ inch. Put pan with custard cups into a cold oven and set temperature to 400 F. Bake 15 minutes and turn off heat. (See note.) Let sit in unopened oven 45 minutes.
5. Remove cups from pan and chill overnight. The next day, remove the foil, run a knife around the sides of the custard cups, and flip the flans over onto serving plates. Serve cold. (Before flans are flipped out of their cups they can be refrigerated up to three days. This longer sitting time also makes the caramel more liquid and less likely to stick.)
Note: Fonville’s oven would heat quickly. After starting in a cold oven, his flan took only 15 minutes to bake. If your oven does not reach temperature fast, consider preheating it first.