13 Feb2009


I think it’s fair to say I have explored leche flan with some zeal. In December 2005, I posted a recipe using carabao’s milk and lots of organic egg yolks, here, after several attempts to make leche flan. It was to be come our standard recipe at home until recently. Then in mid-January of this year, I posed the question about canned condensed and evaporated milk in leche flan, and there was a deluge of comments to that post, which I wrote after reading a recipe in local cookbook. Naturally, a new quest, or “The Leche Flan Chronicles” was born. I started by trying out some flans using plain old evaporated and condensed milk from my pantry, here, dubbed “Round I”. And there was a “Round II”, naturally. :) Then a huge furore formed over my use of inferior canned milk products, with a clarification of preferred brands covered here. It was an incredible search for the right milk products, but I finally found them (although today I notice S&R stocks both Milkmaid and Alpine, myabe my suki reader E read my posts on the matter, heehee) and continued with my quest. I had a little diversion by frying leftover leche flan, just to clog readers’ arteries further. I baked 6 more leche flans, using the right canned milks, in what was dubbed “Round III”. Then I made several SUPERB leche flans using incredibly fresh, creamy and thick carabao’s milk, and thought the chapter on leche flan was adequately addressed, here. That is, until, I found fresh duck eggs, carabao’s milk and dayap on the same day. Talk about the stars aligning for the final leche flan episode…


After reading up on duck eggs, I decided I didn’t want to make leche flans using ONLY duck eggs. Frankly, I was frightened it would simply be too rich. So I opted for the following recipe: 14 chicken egg yolks, 1 whole chicken egg, 8 duck egg yolks, though some whites found their way into the mixture, 5.5 cups of carabao’s milk, 2 and 3/4 cups sugar, and a little dayap zest and a few drops of juice. I could have used all 10 duck eggs in this recipe and you may want to do so if you try it for yourself. Refer to previous posts for method to cook it… The only difference is that I added dayap zest and let the mixture sit for half an hour, after which I strained out the zest. Add a few drops of dayap juice as well. And use dayap, not green lemon, there is a huge difference in fragrance.


For this batch, I used a llanera (aluminum tin containers) and a ceramic dish, just to round out the cooking vessel question that wasn’t dealt with earlier. First off, the results. This was a BRILLIANT leche flan, although if I can shock you, I thought it was almost TOO RICH. If I had done this with only duck egg yolks, I think I would have had a coronary right then and there. So while I think this was stunningly good, knowing how bad the cholesterol count of this baby was took away from this version. The flan itself was almost like eating room temperature butter. The hint of dayap was welcome, and if I had to join a leche flan contest, I might certainly use this recipe, if only because it tastes great, and to boot, it has several wonderful local ingredients such as carabao’s milk and dayap in use, and the twist of duck egg yolks as well. I highly recommend this. But let’s do a recap of leche flan pointers a la Marketman:



Eggs – If using chicken eggs, try and get organic eggs. If the the eggs are small, add an extra yolk or two to the recipe, it won’t kill you. The better the egg yolks, the better your flan. I like the concept of mostly egg yolks and one whole egg, in other words, very little egg white included in the recipe. It goes without saying that you should use the freshest eggs you can get, as opposed to ones that have been sitting in your fridge for two weeks. If using duck eggs, use one duck egg to replace roughly 1.5 chicken eggs, or measure volume if you want to be more precise. I wouldn’t use all duck eggs unless you do have a death wish.

Milk – If you are insistent on using canned milk, then I have to agree on Milkmaid and Alpine, or more specifically, canned products made from whole milk. But if you are serious about your flans, please try whole cow’s milk mixed with heavy cream or anymilk/cream mixture that is roughly 20-25% milk fat content on average. I find using superb carabao’s milk is a brilliant option, particularly if you have access to it, or want to showcase leche flan as a filipino take on creme caramel.

Citrus zest – Personally, I love the hint of dayap in leche flan, but I would strain the bits. The dayap adds a layer of flavor that is subtle enough for most to miss, but strong enough for those with good tastebuds to notice immediately. You may also want to add vanilla, but I don’t find it necessary for a pinoy version, perhaps if catering to a more western palate, I would.

Caramel – I have tried making the caramel with just sugar and with sugar and water. I actually find, surprisingly, that I can control the browning better when I use just sugar. And I do tend towards a darker caramel, almost a bit bitter, while others like it wickedly sweet.

Vessel – While the llaneras are easy and common, I am quite convinced that using a ceramic dish is gentler on the flan, and improves its texture and mitigates potential bubbling. It does take longer to cook, however.

Steaming vs. Bain Marie – hands down I prefer bain marie in an oven at say 320F, as opposed to a steaming method. However, if you must steam, make sure the water in your steamer never reaches a boil and it is a VERY gentle steam and you will get good results as well.


In the flan baked in a ceramic dish up top, I turned it over soon after taking it out of the oven, I was impatient. But the photo just above, had a night in the fridge and just look at it. It looks as good as it tasted. I did have a bit of difficulty extracting it from the ceramic dish.


So in conclusion, the duck eggs add a brilliant richness and smoothness to the flan. I would recommend this if you happen to have the duck eggs, otherwise, do my previous recipe with cream or carabao’s milk and lots of good organic egg yolks. Okay, that’s the end of the leche flan chronicles for now. Enjoy! :)

P.S. I noticed at least a dozen folks leaving comments or sending me emails who actually tried my leche flan recipes with cream/yolks and they all seemed to fall in love with those flans in comparison to the canned milk versions. So while I won’t make a categorical statement about what a best practice leche flan might be, I do hope that those of you enamored with the de lata versions at least try a good cream/carabao’s milk version before getting too set in your preferences… :)



  1. Bubut says:

    i will try to use the carabao’s milk. At home our recipe is 3 large whole chicken eggs, 1 can big Alpine evap and 1 cup sugar. This will create 3 regular size llanera. i will replace Alphine with Carabao’s milk next time.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 3:44 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    Use more egg yolks Bubut, to make up for the less concentrated carabao’s milk vs. the EVAP.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 3:59 pm

  4. mdg says:

    it looks heaven…i’m pretty sure this is 101% BRILLIANT

    Feb 13, 2009 | 4:00 pm

  5. Lee says:

    amazing. my favorite dessert… i’m crying now… hehehe

    Feb 13, 2009 | 4:40 pm

  6. nina says:

    I also tried your leche flan recipe with freshmilk and cream and using bain marie method for the first time. My husband loved it! I will also try Betty Q’s version of using only fresh milk and steaming method to see the difference. I have a small oven and for bigger batches, steaming seemed a better option. By the way, when using the bain marie method, do you use hot water or cold water? I am enjoying my leche flan experiments a lot…

    Feb 13, 2009 | 5:08 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    nina, I start with warm water, but others suggest starting with tap water and letting it heat up at the same pace as the flan…

    Feb 13, 2009 | 5:13 pm

  8. Blaise says:

    OMG! The Mother of Leche Flans has finally arrived… It looks really…

    Feb 13, 2009 | 5:21 pm

  9. Blaise says:


    Feb 13, 2009 | 5:27 pm

  10. Elmo says:

    Hi MM,

    Long-time reader here. Amazing leche flan! We have relatives from Laguna whom we visited often when I was a kid. Their leche flans were always made with duck eggs since the town’s main source of income was raising “itik” for their eggs mainly for balut. I’ve always loved these flans, and now know the reason why they were so good (and bad due to the cholesterol). Thinking about how much leche flan I had there as a kid, makes me want to eat oatmeal exclusively for the next year or so. By the way, did I mention that they also had salted duck eggs (with that amazing semi-oily yolk, and with a just-right saltiness)? Talk about childhood cholesterol intake!!!!

    Feb 13, 2009 | 6:11 pm

  11. Vyanski says:

    Okay now I do not want to even TRY frying this version of leche flan! It looks soooo creamy, the melt-in-your-mouth type as opposed to what I have normally been eating – I suspect because of the egg whites.

    Question: We have an old kind of turbo, the one that’s made of steel (?? or maybe aluminum??), and yes its OLDER than me considering I am in the late 20’s. Can I use this huge equipment to do the bain marie method? The heat will be coming from above as opposed to the oven where heat comes from the bottom?

    Feb 13, 2009 | 7:03 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    Vyanski, I wouldn’t do it in a turbo, a steamer would be a better option or even a bain marie over a double boiler.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 7:07 pm

  13. zena says:

    It looks absolutely WICKED (borrowed form MM)! It has the perfect texture, creaminess, caramelization and taste! No, I have not tasted it, it just looks and sounds that way, hehe. I love dayap in milk-based desserts because it cuts into the richness and just makes it taste so much better; leche flan, tibok-tibok, pastillas. Haaaay.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 7:42 pm

  14. chris says:

    wow and wow uli! ever since i discovered market manila site, i got hooked on cooking/baking again – and naturally, eating too! and i am not surprise for my expanding girth… and it would be too immature for me to blame market manila for this, although minsan, hehehe…

    i am going to uplb tomorrow and will get myself cow’s milk and maybe search for caraboa’s milk na rin… i dont know how a dayap looks like but got that green lemon thing from sm, and ducks egg or itlog ng itik, marami yan dito. sige, i’ll make leche flan on sunday… haaay, cholesterol galore, and to think i have a physical/medical on monday…

    mr, mm… i dont think there’ll be an end to this leche flan discussion. even if you put a period to it, people will keep coming back posting their own experiences and version of their leche flan. and that’s a good sign po… :)

    happy weekend everybody!

    Feb 13, 2009 | 7:54 pm

  15. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    The flan looks awesome!!!

    MM, Try smearing the inside of the vessel with butter before pouring the caramel and custard. This should bring the taste and mouth feel of your flan a notch higher and also make extraction easier.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 8:40 pm

  16. odie says:

    one of my new year’s resolution for ’09 is to try at least one recipe every month from Marketmanila.com, your leche flan will definitely be included!! (they look so yummy, sigh!)

    Feb 13, 2009 | 9:20 pm

  17. Teresa says:

    Marvelous!! It looks marvelous.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 10:21 pm

  18. Morena says:

    Picture perfect! I am sure it tastes real yummy just by looking at the silky smooth texture. No “sugar bubble”. Added dayap zest to the scalded milk makes a difference in taste.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 10:59 pm

  19. sister says:

    I like using ceramic molds for leche flan, it tempers the heat. Buy those guaranteed for oven use, Apilco or Pulliyuet, sometimes those made in China are not safe for baking. Above flans look excellent.

    Feb 13, 2009 | 11:37 pm

  20. mackie says:

    Wow… Leche flan is my favorite dessert, can i taste it… hehehe.. I’m just beginning to imagine the taste of the leche flan with dayap zest. :-)

    Feb 14, 2009 | 1:29 am

  21. Maria Clara says:

    You covered all the gray areas in your quest for delicious, creamy, silky and delightful leche flan including minuscule mold used. You are the LECHE FLAN CHAMPION and deserve the Platinum Award for coming up and sharing with us the blueprint recipe for a perfect leche flan! I believe dayap zest acts like the well-sharpened knife in chopping off the egginess taste in leche flan. I imagine pyrex baking pan which comes in different forms and sizes is a good mold instead of the ceramic ones since they are designed for baking if llanera is an issue. I still like my leche flan napping in the fridge at least overnight before serving it for enhanced flavor and beauty rest before serving it. I like Artisan Chocolatier’s idea of smearing butter in the mold before pouring caramel definitely will add another layer of flavor. My learning process never ends.

    Feb 14, 2009 | 2:56 am

  22. NYCMama says:

    To make the caramel, I use pure sugar no water. I used to caramelize right in the llanera, on top of the stove. Then I started having problems with that, like burning so quickly, or uneven caramelization. So I tried caramelizing in a small teflon frying pan, then pouring it quickly into the molds. Yielded great results, so that’s how I make the caramel now. And yes, I am a condensada girl, just cause that is how lola used to make it. But I now have an idea for a variation to try. Will let you know how it goes.

    Feb 14, 2009 | 3:40 am

  23. tna says:

    The last picture looks like a very dense and creamy ice cream! Again MM, the picture and your description makes me feel like I can taste it already…mmmmm…. :)

    Feb 14, 2009 | 4:47 am

  24. ted says:

    Is dayap same as keylimes?

    NYCMama, i think you also have to make sure the molds are warm when pouring the caramel, otherwise it will harden quickly and would not fully overlay the bottom and sides of the llanera’s.

    Feb 14, 2009 | 5:06 am

  25. betty q. says:

    Yup, Ted…dayap equivalent is key lime. I have seen dayap in some Vietnamese stores, too. ..and no,. they are not the wrinkly makrut either….they look excatly like dayap. Also try East Indian produce stores.

    Feb 14, 2009 | 5:34 am

  26. keithchiko says:

    i tried cooking leche flan for the 1st time using the whole cow’s milk, cream,organic egg w a hint of dayap version (steamed and oven baked)
    since i do not eat leche flan i had to get other testers..they liked the steamed version way better than the baked.


    Feb 14, 2009 | 5:38 am

  27. APM says:

    Hi Marketman,

    What’s next? Ostrich egg Leche Flan? Quail egg Leche Flan? With the success of your Duck Egg trial you can’t stop now. You really are the Christopher Hitchens of Filipino food.

    Feb 14, 2009 | 6:51 am

  28. Marketman says:

    APM, hahaha, how did you guess that I have an ostrich egg in the house…

    Feb 14, 2009 | 7:16 am

  29. Mimi says:

    mm: my son was just telling me that an ostrich egg is roughly equivalent to 18-24 chicken eggs, so you would just need 1 ostrich egg for your soon-to-be-“hinayupak” na ostrich flan.

    i am drooling at the creamy photo of this post’s leche flan; however, since i have just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, i just have to content myself with non-fat yogurt at this moment…pasakit!

    Feb 14, 2009 | 7:33 am

  30. Mimi says:

    P.S. Maligayang Araw ng mga Puso sa Inyong Lahat! Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Feb 14, 2009 | 7:34 am

  31. Marketman says:

    Mimi and APM, I have to be honest and dampen speculation… I didn’t make the ostritch egg into a flan… :)

    Feb 14, 2009 | 7:45 am

  32. Rico says:

    That last photo screams! Like eating butter at room temperature indeed! Excellent pointers too!

    Feb 14, 2009 | 8:07 am

  33. lyna says:

    the last photo is really mouthwatering. I have now decided to have leche flan for dessert tonight!
    Happy valentine’s day MM and to all

    Feb 14, 2009 | 8:56 am

  34. Artisan Chocolatier says:


    Feb 14, 2009 | 9:34 am

  35. beth says:

    Happy Heart’s Day MM,Mrs.MM and the Teen!And to all MM fans!Sweet for my sweet!very timely indeed!Leche flan for dessert tonight!I will use carabao’s milk.Thanks MM!

    Feb 14, 2009 | 10:07 am

  36. alicia says:

    I have really enjoyed your chronicles for the quest for the ultimate leche flan. This is the leche flan recipe I will print and tuck away;-)

    Feb 14, 2009 | 10:34 am

  37. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Your quest has changed my leche flan too. I now prefer fresh milk with cream..Ma Clara— will try that in pyrex and I could use Artisan’s suggestion to smear sides with a bit of butter and NYCMama’s way of caramelization (if into a pyrex it goes). I’m sold into the bain marie-oven version of MM now. Much easier than steaming now …for me. Happy Hearts Day All!!
    Your duck leche flan looks so inviting..

    Feb 14, 2009 | 12:08 pm

  38. Lee says:

    I am not suggesting quails eggs. no i’m not.

    Feb 14, 2009 | 2:59 pm

  39. millet says:

    i can imagine the mouthfeel of those leche flans! Leche Flan EB! Leche Flan EB!

    Feb 14, 2009 | 4:01 pm

  40. Katrina says:

    Oh, my, Marketman, that looks like the ULTIMATE leche flan! I’m not sure I’ve seen one that looks that creamy. I do wish, though, that you’d tried to make it with only duck eggs (as others have said they do), if only to know how that would come out. You have much more restraint than I. ;-)

    Feb 15, 2009 | 12:01 am

  41. crazykriz says:

    im going to try out carabao’s milk na, MM again, thank you for the chronicles u made and shared to us to know whats the ultimate leche flan ala market man. just cant get enough of this dessert. happy valentine’s day MM! =) More Power to ur site!

    Feb 15, 2009 | 4:01 am

  42. chris says:

    wish you all had a happy valentine’s day… huli man daw at magaling, maihahabol din (what an excuse for a tardy greeting! hehehe).

    wasn’t able to buy the carabao’s milk since my kids were too busy enjoying the feel of the fair in uplb. sayang… urong na naman ang leche flan to next week…

    Feb 15, 2009 | 8:47 am

  43. Tings says:

    Hi MM,

    I have a recipe for flan that uses goat’s milk. I haven’t tried it yet but then again I don’t have access to goat’s milk in the first place hehe. I’ll try to find it and send it to you :-)

    Feb 15, 2009 | 5:43 pm

  44. vyanski says:

    Yaiks, I was not able to drop by your site and stubborn me went ahead and used the turbo. It burned! Haha! Its back to double boiler for me. Sayang yung carabao milk! :(

    Feb 15, 2009 | 8:40 pm

  45. maria says:

    Absoluteely sinful! Picture pa lang, dessert na. You will be the death of me MM but I will gladly go as life is too short not to take pleasure and happiness once it’s there for the taking. Haven’t eaten leche flan in a long while but that dayap zest stays in memory for quite some time.

    Feb 16, 2009 | 9:08 am

  46. sunset says:

    Vyanski, You made leche flan using turbo? Did Tita N knew about this? Wait till Dad hear this… =)

    Feb 16, 2009 | 2:46 pm

  47. chris says:

    ting are you based here in manila or nearby suburbs? there’s goatmilk available commercially, the brand is star goats milk ata… available sa mga pasalubong centers along slex.

    Feb 18, 2009 | 1:56 pm

  48. chuchay says:

    Dear Sir MM,

    May I borrow your recipe for leche flan? My 6 year old daughter shrieked when she saw the pic for leche flan. It is her favorite dessert. I live in Marikina City, and unfortunately carabaos no longer travel here, unlike many eons ago when I was still in Antipolo. Is it ok to use the store bought carabao milk i sometimes stumble upon in robinson’s grocery? Thanks and more power to you and your blog.

    Feb 21, 2009 | 8:59 pm

  49. Marketman says:

    chuchay, of course you may try the recipe, that’s why it’s posted… store bought carabao’s milk is fine, as long as it is fresh.

    Feb 21, 2009 | 9:07 pm

  50. joseph says:

    where can we buy good quality carabao’s milk??? are the bottled “gatas ng kalabaw” in supermarkets/malls good enough?? thanks

    Mar 3, 2009 | 5:16 am

  51. jaybors says:

    hhhmmm… your last picture parang matigas ang flan mo… over cooked or too much egg yolk? sa pic kasi yung sliced na flan… parang flaky or something… parang na iba ang texture nya… though nice ang mga ingredients mo… bold move…

    Mar 15, 2009 | 12:39 am

  52. lita says:

    hi po..
    just stumbled on your blog and found this recipe..
    just want to ask po..do i still need to add condensed milk or any other kind of canned milk if i use carabao’s milk na?

    Thank you po..and God Bless.

    Apr 26, 2009 | 9:26 pm

  53. Marketman says:

    lita, no need for other milk if you are using carabao’s milk. I have several previous posts on leche flan experiments with recipes… Thanks.

    Apr 26, 2009 | 9:34 pm

  54. Sandi says:

    I’ll have to try this with fresh cow’s milk and duck eggs.
    No carabaos in this continent.

    May 2, 2009 | 5:44 pm

  55. Tatoosh says:

    Well, this looks excellent and makes me rethink my honey vanilla ice cream recipe. I will have to look around for some duck eggs now.

    I haven’t seen fresh carabao milk here in Baguio City, but there is a dairy so fresh milk is quite available. And thanks for the pointers on the caramel.

    Jun 12, 2009 | 10:50 pm

  56. reader says:

    hey marketman. when cooking your leche flan in a bain marie, do you put the llaneras in the water or do you place them on a rack so they’re above the water? and i read something you said about making a foil tent… would the built-up moisture inside the “tent” drip onto the flan’s surface? :)

    Jun 17, 2009 | 8:18 pm

  57. Marketman says:

    reader, llaneras are in water, not on a rack above the water. If you use a foil tent, make sure it isn’t flat but rather domed or pointed at the center like a real tent… that way, any moisture that collects on the foil drips down to the sides… but don’t worry too much if some water falls into the flan, you flip it over before serving anyway…

    Jun 17, 2009 | 8:48 pm

  58. cookme says:

    just want to know how can we avoid having bubbles into our flans?

    Nov 10, 2009 | 1:19 pm

  59. Marketman says:

    cook me, don’t overbeat or overwhisk the ingredients, incorporating more air into the liquid… and if your oven is set too high or too hot, you could also get bubbles.

    Nov 10, 2009 | 2:14 pm

  60. norris says:

    Hello Marketman! While I am more than ecstatic to see variations of leche flan in your website (truly inspiring and impressive!), I would suggest that in the offing I hope that your recipes would be more specific to include the number of servings, cooking time and correct oven temp for each variations…just little things that could help a beginner in the kitchen. It could get a bit confusing especially when your recipe is included in your narrative as opposed to posting it in a traditional recipe format. =)

    I’m doing some last min Thanksgiving preparations and wanted to follow your very first recipe. However, I couldn’t help but noticed some inconsistencies regarding the temp of oven when following the bain marie method (Is it 375 or 320?)

    Nov 25, 2009 | 4:01 pm

  61. Marketman says:

    norris, thanks for your comment. However, I must say this is a food blog, not an on-line recipe book. And my intention is to document recipes and other finds as I get to them. If I were to publish a cookbook, then it might follow more the norms you expect of a recipe. There are nearly a dozen posts on leche flan for the sole reason that I have gone at it in several ways. And readers who have followed the blog over the years, it is five years old and has 2.400 posts in the archives, understand the flow of the information shared on the blog. As for leche flan, I stated in the original recipe 375F, but other readers suggest going as low as 300F for the bain marie method. Since most home ovens vary as much as 20-30F up or down on their thermostats, you need to figure out what works for YOU in your kitchen. Even with an accurate cookbook, you still need to test the recipes so you get what you like. As a matter of operating policy, I personally DO NOT test new recipes the day before a major holiday. That is a good recipe for disappointment in some cases. I hope you have a good Thanksgiving… we are in the midst of our preparations at the moment as well.

    Nov 25, 2009 | 10:47 pm

  62. artisan jun says:

    I am perhaps as zealous as you are in making the best leche flan recipe as you are marketman. I have definitely been on an odyssey of some sort in searching for the right recipe…until today! I am almost sure this is the best leche flan recipe on the planet!

    Apr 2, 2010 | 12:25 am

  63. foodie says:

    I had some friends over today for tea – Filipino style. I made palabok and also had canonigo with coconut gelato and for the grand finale the leche flan made with carabao milk.
    Yes, I had fresh, organic, pasteurised buffalo milk. That’s what they call it here. Well, if you can get buffalo mozzarella and buffalo burgers…you can also get the milk apparently.
    My Filipino friend (who is a good cook) loved it and said it was better than the condensed milk version that she makes. My foodie friend who is French-Spanish said it was amazing compared to creme caramel, flan or any smilar pudding she has tried.

    Thanks MM. Next time, I will hunt down some duck eggs and try that version. I’m sure I can get them in Whole Foods. I might even try half buffalo milk, half double cream with the duck eggs. It will be sublime!

    Oct 10, 2010 | 7:56 am


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