(WSVN) - It is one of South Florida’s most popular desserts, and now, it is providing a sweet business opportunity for some families with special needs. The Nightteam’s Karen Hensel shares their recipe for success in this special assignment report.

This South Florida teen is learning more than just how to cook in this commercial kitchen.

Rachel Salinas, daughter: “I’ve never done anything like this at all in my life.”

Rachel Salinas, 19, has autism, but it has never stopped her from running a business with her mother Mara.

They came up with a sweet idea to make and sell their favorite dessert.

Rachel Salinas: “Flan is like a nice custard. It’s creamy. It’s soft, and it’s very amazing to try.”

Creating a flan business was always a dream Mara wanted to pursue, but everything had to take a back seat after Rachel was diagnosed with autism.

She enrolled Rachel in a special school for children with developmental disorders, and it changed her daughter’s life.

Rachel Salinas: “I have been more independent. I’ve been learning new skills I haven’t learned before. I’m communicating with other people.”

One of the skills Rachel loved learning was cooking.

Her mother noticed it, too.

Mara Salinas, mother: “She had blossomed into this amazing young adult, and I said, ‘I need to put these skills to use.'”

And that’s when they came up with the idea for Flantasia Flan.

We visited their kitchen to see the magic happen.

Mara Salinas: “The ingredients are milk, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla. All right, so start with your sugar…”

This mother and daughter team has been showing us how they put their special touches on their flan, but it has one special ingredient that you won’t find anywhere else.

Mara Salinas: “A lot of love, actually! I want to say a tad, but no, it’s a lot.”

The eight different flavors of flan are baked, then cooled and packaged.

With Rachel at the register, the team sells at community events.

They also operate a booth at the Palmetto Farmer’s Market every weekend.

When Mara saw the demand for their flan growing, she decided to hire extra employees.

She says the perfect place to find them was her daughter’s school.

Mara Salinas: “Some love to bake, and some love to handle money, and some love to sell, and you just have to find the right thing for them to do. In a couple of weeks, they just picked it up and they’re on point!”

The weekend booths also provide an opportunity for the team to spread awareness about autism.

Ariana Montesinos, employee: “This is important to me because I feel like people who have autism can go out and actually do things like anybody else.”

Back in the kitchen, Mara and Rachel can whip up nearly 100 orders of flan a week.

Mara Salinas: “All right, so we’re going to make three coconut.”

But, they hope to one day expand and hire more employees.

Mara Salinas: “My dream is to have a storefront, where I can have my own kitchen and have them all working.”

They hope their recipe for success helps more young adults with autism develop life skills and enjoy some of the sweeter things in life.

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