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Yam Flan

Posted on December 18 2013

A traditional flan has eggs, dairy, sugar, and vanilla. This is the starting point for all flans. Since I eat yams every day it seemed logical to me to put them in my flan. In Mexico yams are used to make sweets only, but across the US we use them in sweet and savory dishes … mostly in Southern or Soul food.

Yams (and all tubers) were brought to the Americas by the Portuguese and Spanish from Africa. Their name for it was ñame … not too far removed from yam. Unlike most fruits and vegetables, the yam is a highly prized and celebrated food. In Africa there are yam festivals and yam offerings to ancestors and Gods.

Yams are also very healthy. But I won’t pretend this is a healthy dessert. The yams make the flan a lot more dense so you have to choose between less yam flavor or a harder flan.

The first thing you need to do is burn your sugar. I burn my sugar directly in the baking dish that will cook my flan. I don’t recommend you do this with a glass cake pan.

Burn your sugar: 

Option 1: If you have a metal baking dish, place your sugar in the dish and put it in the oven on 300F for 15 minutes; it should start to melt the sugar slowly, you can increase the heat to speed up the process. Watch and smell to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Option 2: Put the sugar in the baking dish and sit this directly over low heat until it melts. Using an oven glove or kitchen towel shake the sugar around so it evenly heats. It will begin to melts and get very hot. Be careful.

Option 3: Put the sugar in a pot, add water. Once all the sugar has melted, immediately pour it into your baking dish. It helps if you warm up your baking dish to give you more time to add the caramel. If not, the caramel will harden immediately upon touching the cold metal.

Put the baking dish aside and allow to cool. It takes about 10 minutes. It will crack and make noise but that won’t affect the finished product at all. You can also make this several hours ahead of time and let it sit. 

Cut your yam into pieces and bake until soft. Put this in blender with a little bit of the dairy. Puree and pass though a sieve.

Put your flan in a bigger baking dish and add enough water to the baking dish to cover flan dish half way - water bath. If a few drops of water get into your flan it’s ok. Bake 45minutes-1hour.

You know your flan is ready when the edges look set; like hard jello. The center will still be loose but it will set as it cools. Turn the oven off and let it sit in the oven for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, remove from water bath, allow to cool for 1 hour then cover and place in refrigerator 4 hours-1 day. 

When you are ready to serve, slide a small knife around the edges, place a flat plate over the flan and turn it over. The flan will slide out with all the caramel sauce. This recipe can be made in one large baking pan or small individual servings. The smaller baking dishes will need less time in the oven. Same rules.

Yam Flan Recipe

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 medium yam; makes about 1 cup of yam puree


  1. Burn 1 cup of sugar and place in your baking dish. (See above for options on burning your sugar).
  2. Bake or boil your yam and puree. Pass through sieve.
  3. Blend all ingredients together and pass though sieve into your baking dish.
  4. Place your baking dish in a larger pan and place in oven. Add water to your larger baking dish.
  5. Bake for 45minutes-1hour. You know it's ready when it jiggles in the center but not so much on the edges. turn off your oven and leave it in the oven for 30 more minutes. Remove, let cool 1 hour then place in the fridge.  

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