Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flan de Coco (Coconut Flan)

I make flan quiet often at my house, it is always rich, smooth, and delicious. I wanted to make a coconut flavored flan, and let me tell you, it came out amazing. It was rich, dense, and had a buttery texture, somewhat firm yet melted in your mouth, heavy but light. It's so hard to describe...

It also helps that I am a big fan of coconut and flan so this marriage of caramel custard and coconut really appeal to my sense of taste.

Give it a try I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

Ingredients for custard:

-1 can of coconut cream (or thick coconut milk) unsweetened
-1 can sweetened condensed milk
-5 eggs (both whites and yolks)
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (coconut extract would work great but I didn't have it)

Ingredients for caramel:
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons water

(1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees with a oven pan/ mold bigger than the mold/ pan your gonna use for your flan. Add water enough to fill 1/2 way. Forget about it while making your flan.
(2) First thing is first, in a sauce pan put 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil on high heat, mixing well, stir constantly, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn completely.

(3) When it turns into a golden color, pour into a mold, and move around in a motion that will make most of the bottom and surrounding area of the mold get covered with caramel. BE CAREFUL it is VERY HOT, and if you burn yourself with it... good luck... do not let your skin make contact with the caramel. Set aside.

(4) In a blender (or you can whisk by hand), add the coconut milk or cream (unsweetened), condensed milk, 5 eggs, and vanilla extract. Blend or whisk by hand.

(5) Pour into a mold, passing through a strainer (if you have one, but if you have one use it, I believe it get's rid of air bubbles and makes it more smooth). Cover the mold tightly with aluminum foil or some type of lid. This is your "flan mold" you can call it with the "flan" inside.

(6) Place the flan mold in a bigger pan that has been heating in the oven with hot water, in the center of the oven. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours. This procedure of cooking we call it "baño maria" (in which something is placed in a hot water bath to cook)

(7) Take out flan, allow to cool down, then let cool in fridge, when ready to serve invert it onto a plate, and slice and serve :)
I know the below picture didn't come out so well but I wanted to put it to show you guys how smooth it came out, with no air bubbles or anything :)

The coconut milk and or cream that I buy at stores is THICK and unsweetened. It is the first press when squeezing the milk out of the coconut. (which is made by finely grated a mature brown coconut, adding hot water to it, swishing it, and squeezing it through a strainer. This first press is very thick and rich, the second press is more watery and the presses after that even more so). I know this because my Filipino friend and her mother (Shantall and Herminia) occasionally make coconut milk for Suman (sticky coconut rice and ginger wrapped in banana leaves)

The brands I use are Chaokoh, Mae Ploy. The way you know if a coconut milk is thick is look at the fat content, the higher the thicker.

I know most Hispanic stores carry more watered down coconut milks like "GOYA" brand, which I use and prefer for some rice dishes sometimes. I usually buy coconut milk at Asian stores like "99 Ranch Market", "Seafood City", "Bangluck Market", etc. but for this flan I use a thick rich coconut cream (which is the rich fatty top that rises when you squeeze coconut milk and let it rest.) and or just thick coconut milk. I do not know how this flan will come out if you use a thinner one but it should work fine, I hope you guys enjoy it :)

If you wanna read up a little on the back round of flan/ cultural aspect check out my first post I made on "Flan" type desserts, my "Flan de Queso" (cream cheese flan):


Also some tips I want you guys to know that you don't need any special equipment to use flan, you can use ANY mold or pan you have that you like or whatever is on hand, heck I've made flan in loaf pans before, the important thing when cooking a flan is technique. As long as you coat something with the caramel, cover it tightly and bake it in a water bath you will get good results and of course the recipe is important :) it has to be rich and dense enough to hold it's shape :) another tip is sometimes (rarely) and this happened to me today, when I inverted my flan it wouldn't un-stick (I know this isn't a word but you guys get it), so I quickly put hot water in my sink, and gently dipped the bottom of my mold to loosen the caramel, took out, wiped then inverted it. You can make flan in individual ramekins too or oven proof dishes.

Another tip I want to add, I know the sauce pan where you make the caramel, you always have some caramel left that sticks to the sauce pan, what I do to clean it is I add water and bring it to a boil and cover it for awhile, the steam will loosen the caramel and any caramel will dilute into the water, then you can just pour out the hot water and wash as you normally would.

Lastly (yes another tip) if you are short on time and need to serve it immediately after cooking, put in in several ice water baths in your sink, I put water in my sink with lots of ice cubes, and put the flan in there, when all the ice melts I drain the water then make another ice bath until it cools well or at least to room temp. then invert it.