Prepare caramel by dissolving sugar in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Once sugar comes to a boil, stir it frequently with a wooden spatula until smooth. Working quickly, pour caramelized sugar mixture into a 7 inch flan pan and swirl to coat the bottom and sides. Do not touch or attempt to taste caramel – it is extremely hot!
In bowl of stand mixer, combine evaporated and condensed milks, eggs, cream cheese and vanilla extract and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add lime zest and mix by hand. Pour mixture into flan pan.
Prepare baño María (water bath) by arranging flan pan into a larger baking pan and place in oven. Pour enough hot water into the larger baking pan to come halfway up the sides of flan pan.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (depends on oven), or until center of flan is set. Insert a thin-bladed knife into center to check, it should come out clean. It is okay if knife comes out slightly wet because flan will continue to cook as it cools and sets.
Let water cool before removing flan pan from water bath and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To de-mold flan, run a knife carefully around the edges without cutting into flan. Place plate over pan and invert onto a plate. Flan should come out easily with caramel sauce.
Garnish with freshly sliced California strawberries and lime zest.
Quick tip: using an egg slicer to cut strawberries creates uniform slices.