A Latin Dessert Duel – Jericalla vs Flan

Jericalla vs Flan

Any discussion of either French or Spanish cuisine traditions would be incomplete without two towering custard creations that they’ve bestowed upon us – jericalla and flan.

In many ways, these two scrumptious desserts share many things in common and we’ll take a look at what those are, but not before a quick look at what differentiates them.

While both jericalla and flan employ similar methods for preparing their custards, the main difference is that flan includes caramel, whereas jericalla does not. In addition, jericalla is finished by burning the topmost portion of the custard, which adds a delightful smoky finish to the smoothness of the custard beneath it.

While those alterations seem small, they translate into vastly different desserts. Of course, the differences don’t stop at ingredients, there are many more to come.

So, without further delay, let’s take a closer look at what sets these beloved treats apart from one another!

History and Origin Differences

If you don’t know the famous story about the history of jericalla, you’re in for a real treat – no pun intended.

But before we get to that, it’s unclear in which country jericalla first originated. It’s thought to have appeared at roughly the same time during the 18th in two countries an ocean apart – Colombia and Spain – but united by towns with similar names.

In Spain, the town of Jérica is often mentioned while its counterpart in Colombia, Jérico, is also thought to be the epicenter of the custard’s creation. Whichever is true no one is quite certain, but what is assured is that the most compelling tale about jericalla’s roots comes from yet another locale, Guadalajara, Mexico.

According to legend, a caring nun worked at an orphanage in town. She grew concerned that the children suffered from symptoms of malnutrition due to a lack of protein and calcium in their meals. However, she needed to find a cost effective way to give the children what they needed while also ensuring they would eat it since kids of all kinds can be picky eaters.

Her solution was to create a dessert that closely resembled flan and if that’s all she’d done, the story would have ended there. However she apparently overcooked her first batch, burning the surface of the custard in the process.

But rather than the kids turning their noses up at it, they loved the combination of sweet custard combined with a slightly charred topping. The dessert was an instant hit not only with the children but soon, with the townsfolk as well, and like the saying goes, the rest is history!

In comparison to the storied history of jericalla, flan is lacking in the drama department, but the passion this dessert stirs in its fans to this day is no less intense.

Most food historians pinpoint flan’s origins to the country of France. Even though the word “flan” is used there, the word is believed to be derived from an old German dialect for a word that describes a flat cake or “flado”.

While today’s flan might not be a cake, there’s no question that the love of this decadent custard has endured through the years. Even though the term flan is still used, it’s more commonly referred to as crème caramel in France today. For much of the rest of the world, though, flan is the common term used.

In fact, flan has demonstrated a remarkable ability to endure, as is evidenced by the fact that so many countries have their own version to suit the palates of local diners. It seems that no matter where this dessert has traveled, it’s been adapted and loved.

Dessert Origin History
Jericalla Colombia/Spain First appeared in 18th century, thought to have originated in towns with similar names. Legend of creation in Guadalajara, Mexico by a nun at an orphanage.
Flan France Derived from old German dialect for “flado” meaning flat cake. Commonly referred to as crème caramel in France today, but still commonly referred to as flan in the rest of the world. Adapted and loved in many countries.

Ingredient and Preparation Differences

As mentioned earlier, jericalla and flan share similar ingredients and preparation methods, but they do differ in some ways.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that caramel is used in flan but not in jericalla.

Flan is traditionally prepared by adding a layer of cooked caramel to the bottom of a ramekin (or mold) prior to adding the custard portion.

Once it has been, the dessert is cooked in a bain marie (also referred to as a water bath). After cooking has completed, the cooked flan is removed from the ramekin and turned upside down so that the caramel layer is on top.

Ingredient/Preparation Method Jericalla Flan
Similar ingredients Yes Yes
Similar preparation methods Yes Yes
Use of caramel No Yes
Method of adding caramel N/A Added as a layer on the bottom of a ramekin/mold before custard portion is added
Cooking method N/A Cooked in a bain marie/water bath
Plating method N/A Turned upside down to place caramel layer on top after cooking

Taste and Texture Differences

The burnt topmost portion of jericalla is described by some as a crust, but it lacks the hardness or crunchy texture most of us would associate with that type of texture.

Instead, the top layer is a flavor packed extension of the custard beneath it. It adds a hint of smoky, nutty taste that flan simply cannot match. When mixed with the fluffy, egglike texture of the vanilla and cinnamon infused custard, it’s easy to see why so many cherish this humble Spanish dessert.

Some prefer to have their flan served warm while still others prefer it chilled, but either way, the caramel layer adds a dimension of elegant sweetness that simply cannot be matched.

Whether the caramel layer is on the softer or firmer side, it mixes easily with the custard, rolling across the tastebuds with each tantalizing bite. 

So your choice is clear.

If you’re a caramel lover, then flan is the dessert for you. If you’re more of a custard fan, then the multidimensional taste and texture jericalla offers is hard to beat.

Feature Jericalla Flan
Topmost portion Smoky, nutty, and adds a hint of smoky, nutty taste Caramel, adds a dimension of elegant sweetness
Texture of topmost portion Fluffy, egg-like Hardness or crunchy texture
Preference of serving N/A Some prefer warm, others prefer chilled
Caramel layer N/A Mixes easily with the custard, either on the softer or firmer side
Best for Custard fan Caramel lover
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