Heat oven to 325°F. In small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring sugar and ½ cup water to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Using wet pastry brush, wipe off any sugar that sticks to sides of pan. Cook, without stirring, swirling pan, until syrup turns deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Carefully divide hot caramel among eight 4-oz. ramekins set inside shallow baking dish; set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl using whisk, beat eggs until well blended. Whisk in condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract until completely combined. Divide milk mixture evenly among ramekins.
Carefully add enough hot (not boiling) water to baking dish, to come halfway up sides of ramekins; cover baking dish tightly with foil. Bake until flan is set but still wiggly in center, 22-25 minutes. Using tongs, carefully remove ramekins from water bath. Transfer to refrigerator to cool completely.
To serve, gently run butter knife around edges of flan; invert onto serving plates. Garnish with raspberries and mint leaves, if desired.
To make caramel in the microwave, simply add 1 cup sugar and ½ cup water to heavy, microwave-safe bowl. Stir to combine. Microwave on HIGH until sugar dissolves, and develops deep golden brown color, about 10½ minutes; then carefully pour caramel into flan molds. Use caution when removing bowl from microwave; bowl and caramel will be extremely hot. Microwave ovens vary, cooking time is approximate.