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Little desserts of Spain: lemon rosemary flan recipe


Lemon rosemary flan is rich with eggs./Wikimedia Commons

An exploration of the little desserts of Spain would not be complete without flan. Prepared in ramekins, flan makes a perfect single-serving dessert to finish a Spanish meal. 

This flan is gently infused with lemon zest, whole fresh rosemary and vanilla bean and is rich with heavy cream and extra egg yolks. 

If you prefer a lighter flan, take a look at cook’s notes section below for suggestions on how to adjust the recipe to reduce the fat and calories. 

This recipe is from “El Farol Tapas and Spanish Cuisine” by James Campbell Caruso. ISBN: 1586851012. 


For the caramel: 

1 ½ cups granulated white sugar

¼ cup water 

For the custard

2 cups heavy cream

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, about 3 inches long each

Grated zest of one lemon

1 vanilla bean, split

½ cup granulated white sugar

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks


Preheat oven to 300°. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. You will use this boiling water as a water bath for the custard. 

Make the caramel: 

Put the 1 ½ cups granulated white sugar and the ¼ cup water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. 

Heat the sugar mixture over low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is a light golden color. Remove from the heat immediately. 

Pour about a tablespoon of the caramel into 6-4 oz. ramekins and set aside. 

Make the custard: 

Heat the heavy cream with the rosemary, lemon zest and vanilla bean until the cream begins to steam and bubble – just on the verge of boiling. 

Stir the ½ cup sugar into the hot cream. 

Remove the cream from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Strain the infused cream into a clean bowl to remove the rosemary, lemon zest and vanilla bean. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and yolks until smooth and combined. 

Temper the eggs by adding about ¼ cup of the hot cream to the egg mixture and whisk. Add another ¼ cup of the hot cream to the egg mixture and whisk. 

Whisk the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream. 

Gently ladle the custard into the prepared ramekins.  

Place the ramekins into a large, deep, heat-proof baking dish. Carefully pour the water into the baking dish around the ramekins. 

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake 30 minutes. 

Remove the baking dish to a wire rack. Lift the ramekins out of the hot water with tongs and cool to room temperature.  Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. 

To serve, unmold the custard onto a deep plate and garnish with the remaining caramel syrup. 

Cook’s notes: 

  • You might wonder why a little of the cream is whisked into the eggs before the eggs are added to the cream. This getting-to-know-you process is called tempering, and it prevents the eggs from scrambling when they are added to the cream. 
  • This flan recipe makes sinfully rich custard. For a lighter version, use half heavy cream and half whole milk and use 3 whole eggs, or whole milk only and 4 whole eggs. 
  • If you’re going to use less fat and switch to whole milk, reduce the amount of the rosemary by half. With less fat to insulate its intense flavor, the rosemary could overpower your flan. 
  • This recipe has two dangerous substances that you must pay attention to when using: boiling water and melted sugar. Be careful, especially if there are small children in your home. Burn injuries have lifelong consequences.  
  • “El Farol Tapas and Spanish Cuisine” suggests garnishing the flan with rosemary and a slice of lemon; personally I think it’s more fun to watch guests as they taste, taste again and then realize what that elusive flavor is instead of having the garnish spoil the surprise.  

More information: 

Love custard? Try this fresh peach pie with a scrumptious layer of custard under the fruit. The custard is made with Greek-style yogurt. 


  • G 5 years ago

    Hey! i recognize that recipe book ;-)

  • Hilary 5 years ago

    Thank you again - it is a wonderful book. I just started reading one night and I am hooked. Let's go to Spain. <sigh>