3 tbsp. water
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean pod
2 (12-oz.) cans evaporated milk
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk (half of a 14-oz. can)
5 oz. cream cheese
4 large eggs
6 tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium low heat, cook water and 1 cup sugar about 10 minutes or until golden brown. (Stir slightly, as over-stirring will cause sugar to crystallize.) Pour caramelized sugar into each of 8 ramekins, coating the bottom and sides.
Remove vanilla beans from pod by slicing the pod lengthwise and scraping out the tiny beans. Blend with remaining ingredients in a blender until cream cheese is smooth.
Fill each ramekin with flan mixture and place in a pan filled halfway with hot water. Cover pan with aluminum foil. (The water and foil prevent scorching.) Cook for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, turning pan every 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely prior to serving. Serve in the ramekins or run a knife along the inside edges of the ramekins and invert onto a dish to remove the flan. Serve with whipped cream and cookies of your choice.