Photo by Beth Ferguson
(makes two 9-inch flans)
4 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of water
7 large egg yolks
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons of cognac
2 12-ounce cans of evaporated milk
2 14-ounce cans of condensed milk
4 cups of whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the sugar and water into a saucepan over high heat. Bring the water and sugar mixture to a boil, without stirring, until the mixture turns amber and is caramelized. Watch carefully so that the caramel doesn't darken too much (this can happen very quickly). Immediately pour the hot caramel into two 9-inch circular cake pans. Swirl the caramel in the pans to coat the bottoms evenly. Refrigerate.
Place the egg yolks, eggs and cognac into a 4 1/2-quart mixing bowl and whisk to combine, but do not beat the eggs. Add the remainder of the ingredients and combine well.
Pour the flan mixture into the two caramel-coated cake pans and cover them tightly with aluminum foil. Place the cake pans in a bain-marie (to do this, place the cake pans in a large baking or roasting pan and pour boiling water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the cake pans) and put the pan in the preheated oven for 2 hours.
Remove the cake pans from the oven and bain-marie, and refrigerate overnight.
Thirty minutes before serving, remove the foil and flip the cake pans onto plates. Rub or gently shake each cake pan with your hands to separate the flan with the caramel from the pan. Return the flans to the refrigerator until ready to serve.