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This coconut flan recipe doesn't use condensed or evaporated milk; only real food ingredients. It's sweet, creamy, and delicious.
So, last time I wrote, I was making up some homemade coconut milk, coconut flour, and coconut butter. Having those wonderful coconut products around, I wanted to make something fun with them. Coconut flan came to mind.
Not only is coconut flan one of my favorite desserts, but I wanted to use up a bunch of my hens' eggs. I mean, a girl must be practical too, right?!?
Coconut flan without condensed milk or evaporated milk
I searched for coconut flan recipes on the internet, but couldn't find any that I wanted to make. Most used cans of sweetened condensed milk and/or evaporated milk. Not only do those not appeal to me, but I've been trying to keep our foods much less processed lately.
I also like to avoid cans whenever possible, to avoid the BPA lining used. Yes, there are now many items that are BPA free, but that doesn't mean they are safe. BPA alternatives like BPS and other plastics have also been shown to disrupt our hormones.
Anyway, going back to elaborating a coconut flan recipe…
I decided to modify how I normally make “regular” flan. I don't really use a recipe for flan, but follow a liquid to egg ratio that seems to work. I usually use around 2-2 1/2 cups of milk and/or cream for every 4 eggs.
Keeping that in mind, I began to experiment and make some coconut flan.
I decided to use equal ratios of my liquids and ended up with 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup whole milk, and 1 cup heavy cream.
By my calculations, 3 cups of those liquids would work well with around 6 eggs. Using that ratio, I started to formulate a recipe.
Coconut Flan Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (around 180ºC).
- In a small frying pan, heat the sugar at medium heat until it starts to melt and brown. Stir the sugar periodically so it doesn't burn, and to incorporate all of the sugar crystals into the melted sugar. You can add a splash of water, as called for in most flan recipes, but I haven't found it to really help the process. I find it just ends up making it take longer because it doesn't really start to melt until all of the water has evaporated anyway.
- At first, the sugar will turn into a light brown liquid. Let it cook for a little while longer until it gets to be a medium brown color. Immediately (and carefully! melted sugar burns!) pour the melted sugar into the bottom of your pan or custard cups, moving the pan in circular movements to try to coat the entire bottom of the pan.
- In a saucepan heat the milk, cream, coconut milk, and honey over low to medium heat, mixing continuously until the honey is completely incorporated into the milks. I don't like things to be too sweet so I don't use much honey. If you don't have honey or don't want to use it, you could use around a half cup of sugar instead. (Add more than that if you like things on the sweeter side.)
- Once all of the honey has dissolved, add a half cup of coconut butter. Then remove the pan from the heat, and gently mix in the eggs.
- Move the prepared pan or custard cups into another, larger pan. You will be using the other pan like a double boiler. Fill the prepared pan with your custard mixture, and fill the larger pan with water. You don't need to add so much water that your flan pan is floating, and you should also be careful not to add so much that you can't safely carry the pans (especially when they are hot later on).
- Put the pans in your preheated oven, and bake for around 40 minutes. After 40 minutes start checking the flan periodically to see if it is done. Just like you would check on a cake, check the flan with a toothpick. When a custard-like consistency no longer sticks to the toothpick, you are finished. Because of the nature of coconut flan, you may get some small pieces of cooked flan or coconut on the toothpick, but you won't have anything with a pudding-like consistency anymore.
- Take the flan out of the oven, and let it cool. Then refrigerate. This dessert can easily be made a day or two in advance and is actually usually better the next day anyway.
- Unmold your flan by gently sliding a knife around the edges before gently flipping it over.
- Now, all you have to do is eat it!! Enjoy!
How did my experiment turn out?
Well enough for me to make it several times since then. So, don't worry, this recipe is tried and true by now.
Notes on making the perfect flan to suit your taste
Choosing a mold for your flan
You don't have to use custard cups as I did. In fact, it's easier to just use a pan, and pretty much any type of pan can be used. For a dinner party, individual custard cups probably look nicer. That said, most restaurants in my area of Spain, even some of the nicer ones, tend to serve slices of flan that have come from loaf pans rather than individual ramekins.
I usually use a round pan, which results in a thinner flan with more sugar syrup to flan ratio. It isn't as pretty, but my husband prefers a thin flan with lots of caramel sauce.
A loaf pan makes a thicker flan, so there is less area of flan exposed to the caramelized sugar part. Keeping that in mind, when I use a loaf pan, I try to coat the pan with the melted sugar part way up the sides in an effort to create more sugar syrup.
When using a loaf pan, since you are using the same amount of melted sugar for a smaller surface area, the first day(s) you will probably notice that not all of the caramelized sugar has dissolved when baking. That is because you end up with a much thicker layer of caramelized sugar at the bottom of your pan. When I have made it in a loaf pan, that caramelized sugar has slowly dissolved over the days we were eating it. I did add a few drops of water to the bottom of the pan each day, just in case. We were serving the flan from right out of the pan, though. If you want to unmold the flan and serve it all at once, the hardened caramelized sugar can cause problems. In that case, just use a little less sugar to make your caramel, or just make sure, when you prepare your pan, that you only use enough to barely cover the bottom and part of the sides of the pan with the caramelized sugar.
If you do use less sugar for your caramel, I would probably add a little bit more honey or sugar to the custard part. I like to keep my custard less sweet because, over the days, the sugar caramel sauce tends to really sweeten the dish, making it much too sweet for me. If you don't have a lot of caramel sauce, though, it won't get as sweet, of course.
What sugar should you use to make the caramel coating?
Speaking of the sugar, I used demerara sugar. White sugar and demerara sugar work quite well for making the caramelized sauce. I have tried darker sugars like panela (A South American unrefined cane sugar), but it is very difficult to get it to melt to the right constancy for pouring without burning it.
Avoiding bubbles in the flan
Another thing to keep in mind is that the whole point of using a double boiler is to keep your flan smooth by preventing bubbles from forming when baking. So, it is also a good idea to carefully mix the ingredients to avoid forming bubbles during that step!
With those tips in mind, you are good to go!
I hope you enjoy it!