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Ube flan with creme caramel and fresh fruit garnish

The holiday season is here, and UH News is asking members of the University of Hawaiʻi ʻohana to share their favorite recipes. The hope is these recipes and the short stories that accompany them will give everyone some ideas for eats throughout the holidays.

Chef flashing shaka
Chris Garnier

Ube Flan—Creme Caramel, was created by Leeward Community College’s culinary arts faculty. The dessert was served during the fall 2023 semester at the college’s fine dining restaurant The Pearl, and was a hit with patrons from the campus and the community.

According to Chris Garnier, a culinary arts assistant professor, “It takes a little bit of work to make this dish, but it’s light and flavorful, and would be the perfect way to finish a heavy holiday meal.”

Dry Caramel

8 ramekins (small, single-serving round dishes)
½ cup granulated sugar
⅛ cup water

Method for Dry Caramel:

  1. Place ramekins in a baking sheet pan (a baking sheet pan has rolled edges with a lip around the entire pan).
  2. Combine water and sugar in the saucepan and begin to melt.
  3. Cook water/sugar mixture until it is a golden brown color.
  4. Distribute caramel liquid evenly into the 8 ramekins.

Check out holiday recipes from previous years

Flan Custard

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
⅔ cup granulated sugar
tsp. salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Ube extract to color

Method for Flan Custard:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Blend everything with a hand blender until smooth.
  4. Let the blended mix rest until all the air is out (when bubbles disappear, no less than 15 minutes).
  5. Pour mixture into ramekins that have the caramel in them.
  6. Fill water outside of ramekins in the baking sheet pan to create a water bath. The water bath should be filled no more than half of the baking sheet pan’s height.
  7. Place the baking sheet pan with custard filled ramekins into the oven. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until the flan is firm.

Ube Halaya Jam

2 lbs. Okinawan sweet potatoes—steamed, peeled and mashed
2 oz. unsalted butter
8 oz. sweetened condensed milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
6 oz. evaporated milk (if no evaporated milk, then use all condensed milk)
6 oz. coconut milk
Ube extract or purple food coloring
Powdered sugar to taste

Method for Ube Hayala Jam:

  1. Melt the unsalted butter and place in the food processor.
  2. Add the sweet potato and the remaining ingredients to the food processor to emulsify.
  3. Add additional sweetened condensed milk or powdered sugar to adjust the sweetness of the mixture to your liking.


  1. Take a paring knife and carefully run it down the side of the flan all the way to the bottom of each ramekin.
  2. Place a plate over the top of a ramekin and flip over to release the flan from the ramekin onto the plate.
  3. Garnish with dollops of ube halaya jam, edible flowers, whipped cream and fresh berries.
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