Flan cupcakes are smooth, rich and creamy, and so easy to make. It’s the perfect recipe if you’re looking for a delicious, make-ahead, no-bake dessert for your celebrations. Let me show you how!
(Looking for a no-fail leche flan recipe? Try this always smooth and creamy Filipino leche flan.)
These flan cupcakes are inspired by graham de leche or graham leche flan, a modern twist on Filipino leche flan.
Imagine a graham cracker cake (like my mango graham cake) with a leche flan in the middle or on top.
I don’t want to go through all the trouble of making a leche flan then assembling the cake though. I feel it defeats the purpose of the oh-so-easy-to-make graham cake.
So I set out to make these leche flan cupcakes. They’re essentially graham de leche in a cup so we get to enjoy graham de leche without all the work.
Why you’ll love graham leche flan cupcakes
Leche flan is one of my favorite Filipino desserts but there are times when I’m craving for something simpler and less finicky. Leche flan cupcakes are perfect for those times!
- Easy and simple recipe. This is one of the easiest desserts to make. Fool-proof, always rich and creamy, made with simple ingredients.
- No bake no steam leche flan. Plus, it’s a no bake dessert. They don’t need to be steamed either. So if you’re looking for a no bake no steam leche flan, this is a great recipe to try.
- Make-ahead. You can also make these cupcakes ahead. They need to chill overnight but you can make them up to 3 days ahead of when you’re planning to serve them.
- Easy to make variations. You can add instant coffee for coffee flan or ube extract for ube flan. The possibilites are endless!
How to make
Making flan cups is easy and very straightforward. Simple ingredients and no special tools required.
Ingredients you’ll need
You’ll need pantry staples in this recipe. Some things to note:
- Graham cracker crumbs — I always use pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs when baking so they’re very fine. If not available, you can use the crackers and just crush them yourself.
- Unflavored gelatine — My preferred unflavored gelatine is Knox and I use one envelope in this recipe. I get asked about agar-agar a lot unfortunately I’m not very familiar with it. Hope this article helps.
- Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk — Best to use full-fat milk for the smoothest, creamiest flan texture.
Tools you’ll use
I always make these in a cupcake pan or muffin pan that’s lined with cupcake liners.
For best results, I recommend using thicker cupcake liners so they hold up better.
You can also use cardboard cupcake cups. These are very sturdy, you won’t even need to put them in a cupcake pan. You can simply line them up on a regular baking pan.
Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, melted butter and a pinch of salt. Stir until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of crust into each cupcake liner and press firmly to the bottom. Set aside while you make your leche flan filling. I like using a shot glass or the end of a french rolling pin for this. You can also use a spoon.
Using a glass measuring cup or a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over ½ cup of cold water and let stand 3-5 minutes until it blooms i.e. the gelatine absorbs the liquid, the granules become larger, the mixture looks like it’s foaming / hardening.
While waiting, you can work on your flan custard. In a saucepan, combine egg yolks, condensed milk, evaporated milk, lime juice and a pinch of salt.
Take your gelatine and microwave on high for 15 seconds or until the gelatine is fully dissolved. You can check by rubbing a small amount between your fingers.
Careful not to heat it too long though because high temperatures destroy gelatine’s ability to set.
Stir and add to your egg yolk mixture.
Cook the mixture on medium heat, stirring often, just until you reach a low simmer. This means few, tiny bubbles are beginning to rise to the surface and you see little wisps of steam coming from the pan.
Add vanilla extract and stir to incorporate.
Remove from heat and strain into a bowl to remove lumps.
Pour the filling into each cupcake liner, filling the liner almost to the edge. Chill overnight.
For that traditional leche flan taste, you can drizzle sugar syrup or caramel on top of the cupcakes before serving.
You can make this by dissolving granulated sugar over low/medium heat.
Easy, right? Here are more tips for perfect graham flan cupcakes every time.
Working with gelatine
I find working with gelatine is very particular. Here are things I’ve learned:
- Use cold water — when blooming gelatine, always use cold water because warm water tends to destroy its ability to bloom or cause it not to bloom properly. I use water from the fridge but cool tap water will work too.
- Sprinkle don’t stir — when adding gelatine to water, sprinkle it evenly on top of the water then leave it. Don’t stir because this will lead to clumps.
- Heat properly — then before adding it to your mixture (in this case, to the flan filling), ensure that you dissolve the gelatine. I like to microwave mine in increments of 15 seconds until it doesn’t feel grainy anymore. Be careful not to over heat it though because, again, heat will destroy gelatine’s ability to set.
Getting rid of bubbles
You know those rich, decadent, perfectly smooth flans you order at restaurants? We can make them at home too!
For a lump-free mixture, run the batter through a fine mesh sieve before transferring to cups.
And to get rid of bubbles that form on top, gently poke them with a toothpick. That easy!
Best container to use
When making mini flans, I recommend using thicker cupcake liners or cardboard cupcake cups.
We don’t unmold these cupcakes (you can, there’s just no guarantee they will look pretty!) so the sturdier the cupcake liners, the better, because they won’t fall apart when we scoop out the filling.
You can also choose to make these using:
- Small ramekins
- Silicone baking cups
- Traditional leche flan llanera or pan
- Or any serving dish you have available
Best way to serve
These cupcakes are best served chilled.
You can drizzle them with caramel or sugar syrup like traditional leche flan. Or top them with whipped cream.
You can also serve them on their own, or with fresh fruit on the side.
You absolutely can! Instead of cupcake cups, pour the custard into a leche flan llanera or an 8×8 inch baking pan then drizzle with sugar syrup or caramel before serving.
You can, just remember that your flan won’t be as rich or smooth so I recommend that you stick with just the egg yolks for best results.
If you’re wondering what to make with your extra egg whites, check out this delicious collection of egg white recipes.
If you just want mini flans, you can skip the crust.
Just make sure your cupcake liner or whatever dish you’re using is sturdy enough to hold the custard i.e. the custard won’t seep through.
You know your flan filling is done cooking when the milk has been heated through and you’ve reached a low simmer.
This means you’ll begin to notice a few, tiny bubbles beginning to rise to the surface and gentle wisps of steam coming from the pan.
This is a great make-ahead dessert! You need to chill the cupcakes overnight but can make it up to 3 days ahead. Store in a covered container in the fridge.
Other recipes using egg yolks
Do you love decadent desserts like this one that are easy and simple to make? Check these out.
Find more leftover egg yolk recipes here.
Flan Cupcakes Recipe
Graham Cracker Crust
- Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside (see note).
- To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, melted butter and a pinch salt. Stir until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Scoop a heaping tablespoon of crust into each cupcake liner and press firmly to the bottom. Set aside while you make your flan filling.
- Using a glass measuring cup or a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over ½ cup of cold water and let stand until it blooms (see note).
- In a saucepan, combine egg yolks, condensed milk, evaporated milk, lime juice and a pinch of salt.
- Take your gelatine and microwave on high for about 15 seconds or until the gelatine is fully dissolved.
- Stir and add to your egg yolk mixture.
- Cook the mixture on medium heat, stirring often, just until you reach a low simmer (see note).
- Add vanilla extract and stir to incorporate.
- Remove from heat and strain into a bowl to remove lumps.
- Pour the filling into each cupcake liner, filling the liner almost to the edge. Chill overnight. Best served cold (see note).
- I use prepared graham cracker crumbs which are very fine. You can also use the crackers and crush them yourself.
- Sturdier, thicker cupcake liners are best used here. You can also choose to make this recipe in ramekins, a traditional leche flan llanera, an 8×8 inch baking pan or even a 9-inch pie dish.
- Blooming gelatine means the gelatine absorbs the liquid, the granules become larger, the mixture looks like it’s foaming/hardening. This takes 3-5 minutes.
- A low simmer means few, tiny bubbles are beginning to rise to the surface and you see little wisps of steam coming from the pan.
- For that traditional leche flan taste, you can drizzle sugar syrup or caramel on top of the cupcakes before serving. You can make this by dissolving granulated sugar over low/medium heat.
Nutritional information are estimates only.