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#FlanFridays: French Farmers’ Market-Inspired Lavender Vanilla Caramel {Flan de Lavanda}

It’s been 2 years since I’ve been to France. 2 years too long. For me, France perfectly epitomizes a beautiful life. Its rich culture, classical art, immense history and chic lifestyle make it a country I’d easily live in.

And that was that plan I had committed to earlier this year. More on that later, but let’s just say my non-stop American hustle has arrested my plans in motion for the time being and so any dream of making Paris or any central France my home for an enviable amount of time is on the backburner. The flame is still burning, but ever so faintly.

Since I’m a bonafide Francophile living in the states, I oft-time relish in the the things I remember most from every trip I’ve taken there.

Among the most memorable ones was a misty evening walk to a local bakery in Loire Valley. The scenery and emotions I experienced during my and dads’s saunter were so impactful, I was inspired to write a story for a print magazine. You can read it here if you like. It’ll inspire you.

As part of my monthly participation in the gourmet cooking group, 5 Star Makeover, hosted by Natasha and my guy Laz, I decided to indulge myself in this month’s theme by taking a virtual trip to France.  This month’s theme: Farmers’ Markets. I couldn’t think of a better time to introduce you to one of the most fabulous markets I’ve been to.

So, back to the trip.

During that same visit with my parents, our mission was to drive from Paris, our home base, all the way to Monaco — the best 10-hour drive anyone could ever beg for. Along the way, we stopped at Hospices de Beaune, situated in a quaint and  quasi-gourmet town about 30 minutes south of Dijon. Hospice de Beaune also houses the historical Hôtel-Dieu. Our somewhat planned stop in the lovely countryside of Burgandy  (really to use the bathroom and freshen up so we could  safely continue on our trek to the Principality) suggested by M (our host back in Paris) turned out to be a colorful gem in so many ways.

Having little knowledge about Hôtel-Dieu, we were thirsty to find out and experience for ourselves some of the documented occurrences there. After our long-hour self-guided toour inside the Hospice (admittedly a very posh and regal ambient space), we made our way to the outdoor masses.

It was the last day of October, so the weather was perky and brisk. Perfect for strolling outdoors. And what better backdrop than a massive edifice bearing history few of us can even fathom.

Unbeknownst to us, the grounds of the Hospice host a very popular open air famers’ and merchants’ market where anything and everything is sold. Everything! If you know me, you know my eyes made a beeline for the apparel and accessories. I quickly scooped up two velvet and tattered-edged scarves for 5 Euros! I should have bought every color. But, I was being cheap; certainly not the place to be penny-pinching.

After I stopped drooling over all of the lovely accoutourements, mami finally pulled me to the crux of the market. This is when I realize how French life is just so sweet.  Markets are a way of life for the French. Both in the city and in the country, markets are where you go to buy everything you could possibly need to live deliciously, to connect with friends, talk about the new culinary trends and just people watch. I saw a lot of that.

At this particular market, there must have been over 80 vendors selling a variety of fancy and rustic local foods, many of them which I’ve never seen at American markets.

Mami and I tasted jams and preserves galore, ranging from fig, to kumquat and peach. We bought some fig preserves. I smelled perfumed handmade soaps and cremes, and again wanted to walk away with all of it.

Papi was more interested in the the nuts and fruits and the plethora of artisanal cheeses and breads. He eventually dissapeared to the butchers’ corner. Hanging ham legs, sausage links and prosciutto made him grin like a pollito aspiring chef.

A dark and older French man, looking like he may be from the Basque region, speaking with a very aggressive accent, sold dried fruits and fresh vegetables. I snuck in a few bites; but that’s what you do when so much is in front of you, just staring and begging to be tasted, right?!

The quadrant where the farmers’ market stands is surrounded by plenty of boutiques, small cafés and boulangeries. All very inviting and packed with visitor’s steadily entering in and out.

As we hesitated to end our visit, I noticed a huge sectional of market bags… Not on my radar at the time since we had a car replete with goodies we picked up in Paris and had our minds set on shopping in Monaco, I wish I would have snagged one up. They were gorgeous. Colorful, ranging in texture, size and design.

And, everyone was carrying one.

Why? Because these most practical of totes hold the goodies you’ve just picked up. They’re great for the aromatic flowers and perfect for the fruits and vegetable and packaged meats you will devour.

And yet again, in retrospect, I wish I would have bought several. For 6 Euros, there was no reason to not buy several for myself and one for every totin’ girlfriend.

With the swelling number of farmers’ markets in the states, especially this summer, I’ve found a need to hit up all the markets in Atlanta and D.C.. And, I’ve found the two perfect market bags to bring with me to carry all of my spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables, fish and meats.

After doing some more online scouring (see here for my 1st virtual shopping experience), I finally settled on two completely different designer bags that serve their purpose and beyond.

The Envirosax bag was perfect for day and night. Its waterproof construction protects against spills and damage and is made from recyclable materials. The chic design, however is what attracted me most. No wait, the price. At $8.95 I think I can afford at least the entire Graphic Line! Thanks to Madelyn whom commented in the tote giveaway post last week, I’m now the owner of a few… and I used them to get some groceries this week.

And, if you see if the raggedy yellow plastic bag I’m holding in the pic below (holding those luxurious scarves I bought), you’ll understand why it was imperative I ended up with this yellow “Cherry Blossom” and even more appropriate black “Paris Metro Stops” jute bags designed by an Orange County, Cali-based company, appropriately coined  French Envelopes! Just as the bags in the Beaune market spoke to me, so did these uber chic ones! I was so excited to go shopping with these bags, especially the black one, naturally! It took me to France; to that bucolic place where I smelled seasonal flowers and freshly baked bread.

Aren’t they cuuuuuute?! Not to mention sturdy and great for other uses…

While my farmers’ market experience earlier this week in prep for today’s #FlanFridays wasn’t as sexy or exciting as any of the market’s I’ve been to in France, this bag did the job of transporting me there. At least in part.

I bought some local eggs, local milk, snatched lavender from a neighbor’s yard and was given lavender sugar from baking diva Chris. Do you see where I’m going here?!

Instead of going for summer crops to make a delecatable dish for this month’s 5 Star Makeover event, I went for ingredients that placed me in France. I love lavender and have wonderful access to it, though Atlanta is not the best habitat for growing it. Being a super fragrant flower that’s only recently become popular in French cooking (having been adapted by Southern French cooks via the herbal blend we all know as herbes de Provence) and which you’ll see lace the countryside, it made complete sense to finally make this decadent and really pretty flan!

I’ve made many a flan, as you know, but this one was different. It was all in the sugar this time. The sugar used to make the caramel has been sitting for over one year with a generous amount of ground lavender, making it very potent. That worked out well because I didn’t have to infuse any into the actual custard. You can imagine how fragrant my kitchen smelled at 1 this morning. Hard to go to sleep.

To top it, I sprinkled French lavender buds from a local gourmet market and styled it with twigs from my neighbor’s house.

 At 10 this morning, I was dipping my finger into the caramel sauce as it oozed out of the mold and onto the plate. I easily could have bypassed the actual custard and drank the caramelized sugar. After over-night chilling, the caramel smelled better than an acre field of lavender, which I’m sure could knock you out!

Farmers’ markets are a way of life for the French. They live, breath and eat it. Literally. The abundance of artisanal products and fine ingredients is always a good excuse to go to market any day they’re open….In some cities, every day.

We’ll catch up one day. Trust.


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  • 3 eggs
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 14 oz.  2% milk
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. lavender sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. lavender buds


Whisk eggs in a medium sized bowl. Add and combine sweetened condensed & 2% milk and vanilla. Set aside. Add sugar and water to your flan mold and caramelize on medium-high heat until it is golden color, stirring constantly. Make sure not to burn sugar.  When fully liquified, carefully coat entire bottom and sides of mold (I suggest using a brush if you are not experienced in handling extremely hot caramel). Set aside for 1-2 minutes. Add mixture to each mold and secure with latch lid.

Add 2 cups of water to a 4 or 6 qt. pressure cooker. Gently place mold in cooker and close lid. Place jiggler on lid. If your pressure cooker jiggler has different PSI settings, set it to 10. Cook on high for 10 minutes, or until pressure cooker starts hissing. Turn off heat and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and  allow all of the pressure to release itself, or for another 2 minutes.

Remove flan from pressure cooker after all pressure is released. Refrigerate for 8-9 hours or overnight for best taste. Remove from refrigeration 30-45 minutes before serving to loosen some. To serve, using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the flan all the way around. Take a large plate, place upside down on top of flan and flip! Be careful not to waste any of the caramel sauce. Garnish with lavender and sprigs for more taste and appeal.

Serves 6-8.

Enjoy thoroughly!

78 thoughts on “#FlanFridays: French Farmers’ Market-Inspired Lavender Vanilla Caramel {Flan de Lavanda}

  1. The markets in France are sure fabulous, so much fun to explore! I love how your visits there inspired your flavors for the flan. So aromatic and delightful with lavender!

  2. Your market photos are stunning! Your flan is lovely, the lavender is a fantastic addition — perfect for a special occasion!

  3. Bren, there you again with these flans! My favorite one has been the sweet corn one, but this one looks so fancy. Ive never been to France but you describe it so well that it makes me feel like Im there, even if for just a moment while I read this! I love farmer’s markets and everything they offer. And yes, you should have bought some of those market bags while u were there! I’d love to see the scarves, too! Great flan! Great inspiration.

  4. 5 Star Foodie: they sure are! Even the ones in small Monaco are wonderful… not as big, but still very colorful.

    Lisa: Ha! I love to hear that.

    Jonathan: you and me BOTH! 😉

    Faith: thanks, thanks and thanks! 🙂

    Michele: I know, I know. I totally should have bought some bags. But at least my scarves are fabulous and I wear them every winter! I have nothing else like them!

  5. Oh, how I miss France. It’s a gorgeous country with an amazing appreciation for food. Well, that’s just the European vibe that I love. But the markets in France (and Italy) are well worth the trip. You can spend so much time just meandering through the tables and tents. You never know what goodies you’ll find. A piece of flan would help me keep the memory in tact. 🙂

  6. That flan must be delightfully fragrant! Whenever I cross the border to France (a few meters away from my home), I always buy tons of food. ;-P



  7. I absolutely love lavender flavored desserts and savory recipes! I was in Paris a few years ago, and it was a beautiful trip. I adore the chocolates and the sightseeing. The subways are similar to NYC, so it was easy to navigate throughout the city. One day… I will return!

  8. Oye,

    Hacia frio?! All bundled up. Fantastic photos all around. You’ve got a good eye for capturing the moment.

    The lavender is a fantastic addition to the flan. For subtle flavor and striking color contrast.

    Me likey!

    Oh, and…you sure love your bags! Just sayin’.


  9. What can I say? You make me want to like flan! Yes, I don’t like flan.

    But I’m a weirdo.

    Loved the post and retweeted on Twitter. Also shared it with some of my coworkers who will be checking out your website 🙂

  10. DuoDishes: It sure is and I can’t wait to go back. You know what my plans have been and I’m still working on it! I did some markets in Italy, but it’s been years since years since I was in the big cities. I didn’t really see any in the coast where I last visited in ’09.

    Magic of Spice: Thanks! It was amazing! Had no idea you had Franco in you. Love it!

    Rosa: It was! The perfume scent was very lovely but subtle. It was a case where the aroma allowed you to really enjoy the simplicity of the flavors.

    Aurelia: Ha! I loooove this comment! You’re so smart! I’ll come up with something for tote! Isn’t the Paris one lovely!!

    Sanura: What isn’t beautiful about a trip to France?! Subways there are definitely lots of fun and reminiscent of NYC ones… only sexier!

    Laz: Si mijo… no leeiste el post… Dije que era fin de Octubre. Te voy a tener que hacer varios de mis flans 😉 And yes, I do love my market bags! So chic!

    Bonnie: Thanks for coming along!

    Sujeiry: WHAT! you don’t like flan. Dios mio… que despretigio! We have to change that! 🙂

  11. The pic of the Markets are simply stunning! You captured another special moment of a beautiful culture. The Lavendar Flan is a perfect touch to keeping your memories of good food and great family! I so need a travel budget quick!!! Enjoyed this post to the fullest.

  12. This is a gorgeous recipe and I love the farmer’s market. The wine from the Hospice de Beaune is insanely good… I felt like I was there looking at your pictures… they were fabulous. I just love lavender and haven’t made a flan in so long… why am I waiting??

  13. Bren, am I seeing New Wave Plates. I have the same and love them. This was a fun post, and I love Paris and their approach to food. I have some lavender sea salt that would be amazing sprinkled upon your flan. If I am ever in Atlanta, it would be fun to hook up. We go about twice a year just to find a good restaurant.

  14. Oh. My. I am such a fan of culinary lavender in cooking, this must be amazing … And I loved reading your story of your French trip! I totally know what you mean about feeling a connection with a place and wanting to make it your home … I have some plans along those lines as well ; )

  15. I can only imagine how amazing this luscious flan tasted with the infused lavender sugar! Evocative images of the market at Hospice de Beaune – I hope to make it to the Burgundy area on our next trip to Paris in October. Have several Envirosax bags, but not that style – will have to check it out 🙂

  16. Mija – I have been nursing a lil lavender plant for the past few weeks and now I know what I will make with it once it flowers. Que rico!

  17. Deana: Didn’t have any wine form the hospice, but everything else was delightful indeed. The variety there was perfect for anyone looking for anything! I hope this post inspires you to make flan!

    Angela: i love how you noticed the plate… i actually have another one where the actual center is all wavy… adds great texture. I’d love some lavender sea salt, so feel free to send some my way. Much more fun when receiving it from a friend than making it myself! *wink*

    Trix: It was, girl, it sure was!

    Priscilla: yes, yes, yes. I’ve been wanting to make a lavender flan for a looong time and finally! I find the perfect time to make it. So glad I did. I still want to play around with and make a lavender infused one in addition to just the caramel.

    Eliana: girl, nurse and then send me some! it’s too hot to grow some here..

  18. What a great post! Sounds like such an amazing experience. I just love the essence of lavender so I am totally feeling your flan. I got a lavendar plant at the farmers’ market and the pretty little flowers are just starting to come up. Oh, and those bags are too cute.

  19. OMG!!! Thanks Bren for the shout-out!! I am glad you liked the saks… My best friend gave them to me as a present and they’re awesome to carry in your purse all the time for impromtu shopping. You never know when you’ll be in a spectacular farmers market and need to do some $$ damage.

    I am declaring right here I WILL GO TO PARIS for my next birthday!!! hopefully we can all plan to visit together… we have a few months ahead of us… Merci beaucoup et Bon Apetit tojours…

  20. What a fabulous post, Bren! I recently discovered how wonderful it is to bake with lavender and now I try to incorporate it all the time! This flan looks luscious~
    For the past couple of months, my friends and I have been obsessed with visiting France someday. Lovely post and stuning photos!


  21. To say that your post reads great is grossly redundant … but it does read great!! We definitely have to go back not only to Paris but to those quaint lttle towns where we had so much fun.
    And the flan… wow; loved it!

  22. que rico flan ,me maravilla la capacidad que tienes para hacer flanes tan apetitoso y originales ,creo que hay que llamarte la reina de los flanes , te quedo bello y el lanvender lo hace lucir mas bello felicidades

  23. Hi Bren! Wow this reminded me of my trip to France too. However, it was sad that I didn’t get to go to a farmers market.

    I love lavender so this is all good to me and it makes me do a happy dance when I hear the name. Great choice!

  24. Your farmers market inspired flan looks out of this world! This truly is a beautiful creation that captures the essence of farmers’ market, and it is a gorgeous representation of those wonderful french markets too! I would love to visit those markets when I do get the chance!

  25. Another flan! Will you ever stop?(of course not). This one looks good. I like the pics of the farmers market in France.

  26. Marisa: oh i’d love to see what you do with your lavender. and yes! the bags are way cute. I’m glad you like. I love them!

    Madelyn: I know, chica! Thanks for putting me on to them! I love them already! They’re so fabulous! Let me know cuando algas un flan parecido

    Tammy: If you travel no where else, you should definitely go to France. It’s really a magical place. And I’m all into lavender these days, too. Boiled some day as potpourri!

    David: it’s one of the best gifts you and mami give us! our turn one day soon!

    Betty: Ay gracias. No son tan dificiles. Pero el gusto que dan vale la pena aprender.

    Emme: You’d love both the flan and France, the day you go!

    Tanantha: oh no! the fm’s there are sooo incredible. nothing like here. it’s like going to an Italian market (only those are friendlier!) ha.

    Jessica: Yes, yes, yes, just like I’ve told everyone above. Make a point. And thanks on the flan. Seems like the market stole the show!

    Dullah: no, and you know that! 🙂 Ha. At least you get to eat some.

  27. Bren te tengo decir que el flan te quedo riquisimo! tanto que queria otro flan entero– no solamente un pedacito! jajaja. Buena trabajo.

  28. Thanks Bren for featuring my gorgeous “Jute Tote Bags” in your article on French Farmers’ Market. I own all seven of them – and my favorite is the same as yours. Actually, it is one of my “Best Sellers.” I get more compliments from “toting” these jute bags than i ever did from all the designer bags i own. Gotta love that !!
    Fabulous look for a even a more fabulous price !

  29. Hey there! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and finally got the bravery
    to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Tx! Just wanted to say
    keep up the good work!

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