Mastering Kem Flan: A Guide to Vietnamese Creme Flan Perfection

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine diving into a silky, smooth dessert that not only delights your taste buds but also carries a rich history from the vibrant streets of Vietnam. Kem flan, a Vietnamese version of the classic crème caramel, is a beloved treat that combines the elegance of French cuisine with the unique flavors of Southeast Asia. This custard dessert, topped with a layer of soft caramel, is known for its luscious texture and perfectly balanced sweetness.

Making kem flan at home might seem daunting, but it’s surprisingly simple and incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just craving something sweet, this dessert is sure to impress. Get ready to indulge in a spoonful of heaven that’s as delightful to look at as it is to eat. Let’s explore how you can create this exquisite Vietnamese flan in your own kitchen.


Gather all the necessary ingredients to create your own delectably smooth Kem flan, perfectly balancing the crispy caramel with a creamy custard.

For the Caramel

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Equipment Needed

To make Kem flan, you will need a few kitchen essentials that will help streamline the cooking process and ensure your dessert turns out perfectly every time. Here’s what you should gather before starting:

  • Round Baking Dish: Preferably a 9-inch dish for setting the custard.
  • Medium Saucepan: This will be used for caramelizing the sugar.
  • Mixing Bowls: You’ll need at least two bowls; one for mixing the custard and another for the water bath setup during baking.
  • Whisk: Essential for combining the eggs, milks, and vanilla extract smoothly.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: To ensure your custard mixture is silky smooth, strain it with a fine mesh strainer.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accuracy is key, so have a set of measuring tools ready.
  • Oven Mitts: Safety first! Oven mitts are necessary for handling the hot dish.
  • Aluminum Foil: Used to cover the custard during the baking process to prevent it from browning too quickly.

Gather these items, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a delightful Kem flan for your next gathering or special occasion. Each piece of equipment plays a pivotal role in achieving the harmonious balance of flavors and textures that make this dessert a standout.

Prep Work

Before you start cooking, make sure you have all your ingredients measured and equipment ready. This step ensures a smooth and efficient baking process.

Preparing the Caramel

To begin making your Kem flan, start with the caramel. Place 1 cup of granulated sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts into a deep amber liquid. Keep a close watch as sugar can burn quickly once it starts to melt. As soon as the sugar has fully dissolved and turned a rich amber color, carefully pour it into the bottom of your round baking dish. Swirl the dish to evenly coat the bottom with caramel. Set aside to cool and harden while you prepare the custard mixture.

Mixing the Custard Ingredients

Next, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together 3 large eggs, 2 egg yolks, and 1/3 cup of granulated sugar until smooth. Ensure to mix until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is slightly pale. Gradually add 2 cups of warm milk and 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, continuing to whisk until everything is well incorporated. Strain this mixture using a fine mesh strainer to remove any egg lumps, ensuring your custard will be perfectly smooth. This step contributes significantly to the velvety texture of your Kem flan.

Cooking Instructions

Now that you’ve prepped your caramel and custard mix, follow these step-by-step instructions to perfectly cook your Vietnamese Kem flan.

Cooking the Caramel

  1. Prepare the Saucepan: Select a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan to ensure even heat distribution.
  2. Melt the Sugar: Add 1 cup of granulated sugar to the saucepan and place it over medium heat. Avoid stirring; instead swirl the pan gently to distribute the heat evenly.
  3. Monitor the Color Change: Watch as the sugar starts to melt and turns from a sandy texture to liquid. Gradually, the color will deepen to a rich amber. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Pour into Mold: Quickly, but carefully, pour the hot caramel into your round baking dish. Tilt the dish to coat the bottom evenly with caramel. Set aside to cool and harden while you prepare the custard mix.
  1. Preheat the Oven: Heat your oven to 350°F (175°C) ensuring it’s at the right temperature before you start baking.
  2. Strain the Custard: Pour your custard mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl to remove any egg solids and ensure a smooth texture.
  3. Combine with Caramel: Gently pour the strained custard over the hardened caramel in the baking dish.
  4. Prepare for Baking: Place the dish into a larger baking pan and fill the outer pan with hot water about halfway up the sides of the custard dish. This water bath will help cook the custard evenly.
  5. Bake: Place the baking setup in the preheated oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes. The custard should be just set, with a slight jiggle in the center when lightly shaken.
  6. Cool and Serve: Remove from the oven, and let it cool in the water bath for an hour, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. To serve, carefully run a knife around the edge of the custard to loosen it, then invert onto a plate. The amber caramel will flow beautifully over the creamy custard.


Now it’s time to bring together your caramel and custard to create the smooth and luscious kem flan.

Combining Caramel and Custard

Start by ensuring your caramel is evenly distributed at the bottom of each ramekin. The warm caramel should be slightly set but still fluid enough to coat the surface as you tilt and rotate the ramekin. This layer will form the beautiful golden top once the flan is inverted.

Next, gently ladle or pour the strained custard mixture into each caramel-lined ramekin. Fill them about three-quarters full to allow space for the custard to expand slightly during cooking. Be careful to not disturb the caramel layer more than necessary.

If any bubbles appear on the surface, lightly skim them off with a spoon for a smoother texture. This attention to detail ensures a perfectly silky finish on your flan. Once assembled, they are ready to be baked in the water bath as previously described.

Make-Ahead Tips

Crafting a perfect kem flan requires not just skill but also a good understanding of timing. Here’s how you can prep this delightful dessert ahead of time, ensuring it remains fresh and fabulous for your gathering.

Prepare the Caramel in Advance

Start by making the caramel at least a day ahead. Once the caramel is golden and fluid, pour it into your ramekins. Let it harden at room temperature and then cover each ramekin with plastic wrap. Store them in the refrigerator. This step locks in the caramel’s delightful texture and rich flavor, ready to be topped with custard.

Strain and Store the Custard Mix

After mixing your custard ingredients, it’s beneficial to strain the mixture to ensure it’s silky smooth. You can then cover the strained mixture and refrigerate it overnight. This not only enhances the flavor by allowing the ingredients to meld but also saves you valuable time on the day of serving.

Setup for Quick Assembly

Pre-arrange your baking setup the night before. Place your water bath and racks in position so that on the day of baking, you just need to fill the ramekins with the custard mix, set them in the water bath, and start baking right away. This reduces setup time and streamlines the process, making it almost effortless.


Ready to dive into the sweet world of kem flan? You’ve got all the tips and tricks to make this delightful dessert shine at your next gathering. Whether it’s the smooth caramel layer or the creamy custard that excites you most, each spoonful promises a taste of Vietnamese culture and culinary finesse. So why not give it a try? Gather your ingredients and let your kitchen be the stage for a truly international creation. Your friends and family are sure to be impressed with your new dessert-making skills!

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