The purpose of the Cultural Conversations Friday e-mail blast is to provide various tidbits on Cultural and Linguistic Competence (CLC) activities, cultural discovery, interesting information about other cultures, how to be more culturally sensitive to others and updates on statistics and information that are relevant to the work the FAST TRAC system of care is doing with youth and families in Clermont County.


This Week's Cultural Conversation:

Cinco de Mayo will be celebrated on Monday, May 5, 2014. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday which celebrates the victory over French forces on May 5, 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. It is often mistakenly thought to be Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16th. More of an emotional victory than a military one, to Mexicans the Battle of Puebla represents Mexican resolve and bravery in the face of an overwhelming foe.


Recipe for FLAN

Flan is a traditional Mexican custard. The cooking method causes a delicious caramel sauce to form as a topping for the flan. If possible, make the flan a day in advance to give it extra time to set up.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes


For the Caramel:

  • 3/4 cup sugar


For the Custard:

  • 1 quart milk
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick or vanilla bean
  • 1 small piece orange or lime rind (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 egg yolks


Heat the sugar for the caramel in a small, heavy frying pan over low heat until it begins to dissolve. Shake the pan slightly (do not stir) until all the sugar has melted. Increase the flame and let the sugar bubble and color. Pour the caramel into the mold and quickly turn it around in all directions, tipping it up in a circular motion until the surface, bottom and about 2 inches up the sides has been lightly coated with the caramel. If the caramel thickens and becomes sluggish, gently heat the mold in a pan of hot water or over low heat, depending on the material, and continue the coating action. Set aside to cool.

Put the milk, salt, sugar, and
cinnamon or vanilla into a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Continue boiling slowly, taking care that it does not boil over, until the milk has reduced by about 2/3 cup. Set aside to cool.

Place an oven rack on the lowest rung of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F.

Beat the eggs and yolks together and stir into the tepid milk. Pour the mixture through a strainer into the flan mold and place it in a hot water bath in the oven. Test after 2 hours with a skewer or cake tester; if it comes out quite clean, the flan is cooked. Remove from the oven, but allow to sit in the water bath for about 15 minutes longer. Remove and set aside to cool completely before refrigerating.

To unmold, carefully slip a blunt-ended, thin metal spatula around the rim of the flan and gently tip the mold from side to side to see if the flan is loose. If the caramel has hardened at the bottom of the mold, place it in a pan of hot water for a short time and test again. Place the serving dish - it must have a rim to hold the syrup - on top of the mold, invert quickly, and pray that the flan comes out whole. Always serve a wedge of the flan with plenty of the extra syrup.

Yield: 8 servings

Author's Note: If you have time, make this flan the day before so that it has time to set well and is easier to cut. While I use the Mexican flan mold for mine, you can use any sort of mold and put it in an improvised water bath. Be sure that the water is very hot when you start to cook the flan and that it comes at least one third of the way up the sides of the mold. Cooking time will depend on the depth of the custard in the mold; if it is less than about 3 inches, it will probably take less cooking time.

The Art of Mexican Cookingby Diana Kennedy (Bantam)
Reprinted with permission.

About Us

Clermont FAST TRAC, a system of care initiative of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, is funded by a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.