Silky, rich and dairy-free flan.
A traditional Spanish/Latin-American pudding, flan can easily go from dairy to dairy-free. Rich almond milk, made thick, can substitute for the usual condensed and evaporated cow’s milk recipe. But I confess – sometimes I forget to soak the almonds overnight, or I’m too busy to want an added step in my cooking. Luckily, I always keep a few cans of coconut cream in the pantry. Not coconut milk – the thick, rich cream. It makes a delicious, silky flan – each spoonful light and sweet.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 cups coconut cream (not milk)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 whole eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon coconut flakes for garnish
- 6 ramekins of 3/4 cup volume
- Pastry brush
- Boiling water
- Deep baking pan
- 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup or bowl
- Wire rack
For caramel topping:
Preheat oven to 350° F (175°C).
Have ready a kettle of boiling water.
Combine the caramel topping ingredients in a small saucepan. Dissolve the sugar over low heat, stirring gently.
Once dissolved, raise the heat and cook about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally but not stirring. As the sugar caramelizes, it will leave a white residue on the walls of the pan. Wash it down by brushing it with a wet pastry brush. Let it cook until you have an amber-brown syrup.
While the caramel is cooking, blend the coconut milk and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat slightly until just warm.
Blend the whole eggs, yolks, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside.
Carefully pour the caramel into the ramekins. The bottoms of the ramekins will be very hot; protect your hands with oven mitts. Swirl the caramel around each ramekin so that the bottom and part of the inner walls are coated with syrup. Place the ramekins in the baking pan. Pour hot water into the pan to come up to the bottoms of the ramekins. This will keep the caramel from hardening into candy.
Pour the warm coconut milk into the egg mixture, stirring only enough to blend.
Strain the custard through the sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl. Fill the ramekins (use a ladle or pour from the measuring cup).
Place baking pan with ramekins in the oven. Pour hot water into the baking pan, from one side, to come up halfway the height of the ramekins.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until the flans are set. The tops of the flans may be bubbling; that’s OK.
Carefully transfer ramekins to a wire rack to cool. Use canning tongs for this if you have them. Cool about 2 hours.
Cover flans with plastic wrap and chill 6-8 hours.
Loosen the flans by running a knife around the edges. Invert each one onto a dessert plate. Tap the ramekin and shake it gently. If the flan doesn’t release, place the bottom of the ramekin in hot water for a few seconds and invert again.
Sprinkle the tops of the flans with coconut flakes, and serve right away.