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Tangerine and ancho chilli flan

Dessert Gluten free
6 people
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Flan is the Spanish-speaking world’s answer to creme caramel. Custard is a tricky thing to get right at the best of times: cornflour can make it too floury if it’s not cooked properly, while eggs curdle if the heat is too high. But you can cheat by putting all the custard ingredients in a blender and blitzing them for 30 seconds: even a trained patissier wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. You can use orange instead of tangerine, though the latter tastes rather special.


100g caster sugar
1 tbsp tangerine juice
1 ancho chilli (you want 18g, so you may need only ¾ of a chilli), soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes
270g condensed milk
100ml double cream
400ml whole milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or essence
1 tsp grated tangerine zest
1 generous pinch flaked sea salt


  1. Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas 2. Put a 20cm x 20cm nonstick square tin (or a similar sized ovenproof dish) in the oven to warm; make sure the tin isn’t spring-form, though, because you don’t want the caramel to escape.
  2. For the caramel, put the sugar in a large pan on a medium heat and cook for about eight minutes: resist the urge to stir, and instead swirl the pan around until the sugar has melted. Continue swirling slowly until the sugar turns a dark amber, then quickly take the tin from the oven and pour in the caramel, tilting the tin as you go so it covers the base evenly. Leave the caramel to set while you make the custard.
  3. Take the chilli from its soaking water and squeeze out any liquid. Discard the stalk, put the chilli, seeds included, and all the other custard ingredients in a blender and blitz on high speed for about 30 seconds, until well combined.
  4. Tap the base of the caramel tin to check it has set (if it hasn’t, leave it a little longer), then pour in the custard through a mesh sieve, to catch any larger bits of chilli.
  5. Gently lift the tin into a larger, high-sided baking dish and put in the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the larger dish to come halfway up the sides of the tin, then bake for 40-50 minutes, until the surface is set and golden-brown, but the flan still has a good wobble to it (it will set more in the fridge). Lift the flan out of its water bath, leave to cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least three hours.
  6. Take the flan out of the fridge half an hour before you want to eat it. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the flan to release it, and place a lipped plate larger than the tin on top of the flan tin. Holding both the plate and the tin together, quickly flip the whole thing over and gently lift off the tin: the flan should release itself on to the plate. Drizzle the tangerine juice over the top and serve at once.