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Oolong Tea Flan With Brown Sugar Caramel

Oolong tea flan with brown sugar caramel by Rahanna Bisseret Martinez

A simple flan infused with oolong tea.

Oakland-based chef Rahanna Bisseret Martinez got her start in the food world early, having finished second place on Top Chef Junior in 2017 at age 13. Now 19, she’s already interned with Dominique Ansel Bakery LA, Chez Panisse, and Tartine Bakery, among others, and this May is releasing her first book, Flavor+Us, an approachable cookbook with globally influenced recipes and techniques. This flan recipe showcases her technical cooking skills, calling for a Chinese-inspired steam bake instead of a traditional oven water bath.

“In this recipe, the flan steams on the stovetop for only 15 minutes, taking down the cooking time drastically,” she explains. The brown sugar topping also quickens caramelization, and the oolong tea imparts a subtle floral flavor to this unique, easy-to-make flan.


  • Flan
  • 2 cups 2 percent milk, plus more as needed
  • 1 Tbsp. dark oolong tea leaves (from about 3 emptied tea bags)
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk, preferably organic
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • ________________________
  • Brown sugar caramel
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. corn syrup, preferably organic
  • Tools:saucepan, large bowl, whisk, medium-size bowl, 6 ramekins, instant-read thermometer, large pot with steamer


To make the flan, start by making evaporated milk. In a saucepan, combine the milk and oolong tea leaves. Heat over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring periodically to prevent a skin from forming and to prevent the bottom from scorching. Let the milk cool down in the freezer, if you want to make the dessert quickly, or fridge if you want to break up the steps.

Meanwhile, start the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, eggs, egg yolks, and salt. Strain this mixture into a medium-size bowl.

Once the evaporated milk is cold (about 25 minutes in the freezer), strain it into a measuring cup. You should get 1 cup of infused milk. (It’s okay if a few specks of tea make their way into the milk.) If you have less, top it off with a little more milk so you get to 1 cup. Add milk to the egg mixture and whisk together.

Set 6 ramekins out on a countertop and start on the brown sugar caramel. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 2 tablespoons of water with the brown sugar and corn syrup. Monitoring with an instant-read thermometer, heat the caramel to 250°F. It should take 3 to 4 minutes. Once the temperature hit 250°F, take the pan off the heat and swirl in 2 more tablespoons of water. Evenly distribute the brown sugar caramel among the ramekins, spooning about 1 tablespoon into each.

Evenly divide the egg mixture into the ramekins by pouring about 1/2 cup into each ramekin. Cover the ramekins tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

In a large pot fitted with a steamer, bring 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat. If you do not have a steamer, fold a few sheets of aluminum foil into 1 inch-thick squares large enough to hold a ramekin and sit securely while being steamed. You want the foil to be just slightly above the water. Once the water is boiling, lower the heat to medium to maintain a simmer. With tongs, gently place 3 ramekins into the steamer or on the squares of foil, ensuring they don’t touch the water, and steam, covered, for 15 minutes. The flans should look mostly set, with a slight wobble in the center. (They’ll finish cooking as they cool.) If they still look liquidy, re-cover the flans and steam for 2 more minutes. Cook the next batch of ramekins the same way, adding more water to the pot if necessary.

Let the flans cool to room temperature. Run a butter knife around the edges to release the flans, then flip each one upside down onto a plate. You could flip them out while they’re still warm but if you wait till they’re cool, they’ll have a firmer texture and better flavor. Serve immediately or store in the fridge tightly covered with foil or plastic for 4 to 5 days.

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