I call this Betty's Flan because the recipe was given to me by a very dear friend many years ago. As a follower of the recipe book, The Joys Of Cooking, she may have gotten her recipe from there. I'm happy to give credit to both my friend and her favorite recipe book.
Most often I caramelize the sugar just to a golden color. But this time, I had opted for a much darker color. When cooked to that point, the flavor has a pronounced almost burnt taste.
3/4 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 14 ounce condensed milk
1 -3/4 cup of water
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Gently beat 4 eggs, trying not to produce bubbles in eggs. Do not over beat eggs. Sir in remaining ingredients: condensed milk, vanilla extract and water. Set aside.
Pour 3/4 cup of sugar in heavy skillet. Stir sugar over medium heat until it melts and is caramelized. This takes a little while but once sugar begins melting it does so very fast. Once caramelized, brown syrup to your desired color. Some people like the caramelized sugar burned. Pour caramelized sugar in a 7" (or 9") WARM cake pan. A souffle pan would just as well. WORK FAST so that syrup spreads over bottom of entire pan because it hardens very quickly.
Custard to Mold to Serving
Pour custard into cake pan up to about 1/4 from the top. NOTE: Pour custard through a fine strainer to get rid of any bubbles. Place pan in a larger heavy pan. Pour hot water in the larger pan up to about 1 to 2 inches of cake pan containing the custard. Cook in oven for 1 hour. Test custard for doneness: insert a thin knife near the center. If it comes out clean, the custard is done. Remove from oven. Let custard cool at room temperature. Put custard in refrigerator. Custard is best when allowed to refrigerate over night. Left over should be kept refrigerated.
Remove custard from mold
Run a thin knife around the side of the mold to make sure the sides are not sticking. Put serving plate on top of mold. Carefully and quickly turn over the plate and custard. Be careful of caramelized syrup running. Garnish with raspberries or some other tart fruit and mint around the edge of the custard.