Coconut Flan (Bánh Flan Dừa)
Flan – a sweetened egg custard dessert with a caramel topping.
Many cultures have their own version of flan. In my mind, flan is the random occurrence dessert – my mom makes it when she just feels like it. I like it that way; getting to enjoy flan out of the blue makes it even more tasty somehow.
Delicious as my mom’s flan is, it’s not this recipe – this recipe has added coconut milk! But why add coconut to it?
During our vacation in Vietnam, my cousins and I took a Grab (Vietnamese Uber) to a simple dessert place serving chè and flan. Despite it being in a weird alleyway (we were briefly followed by an elderly scammer trying to convince us she knew our family), the flan they served us was so SO good. It was the creamiest, silkiest flan I ever had and it was served in a pool of coconut milk and shaved ice!
That coconut flan is what I’m attempting to replicate here! Usually I can get things right on my first try (ok I know, humble brag), but my first run had me adding too much liquid (3 cups of combined liquid) and resulted in more of a cross between flan and pudding.
While the flavor was good, I wanted flan FLAN – soft, smooth, & silky BUT slightly firm; that’s what the ideal flan should be like in my opinion.
For my second and final try, I reduced the combined liquid to 2-1/2 cups and used a higher coconut milk to whole milk ratio. It worked perfectly! I can proudly call this my own flan baby now.
This flan is more decadent than the original flan – the coconut milk gives it more body and makes it even creamier!
That said, if you prefer original flan for it’s lighter and more delicate taste, just use 3 eggs and 3 egg yolks, replace the coconut milk with whole milk to have a total 2-1/2 cups of whole milk, and add 1 tsp vanilla extract! This is the recipe my mom uses~
Check out my Instagram highlight @pokethedough to watch how I make these!
Makes 8 individual flan
2/3 cup sugar, for the caramel
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp water, divided, for the caramel
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar, for the custard base
1/8 tsp salt (or a pinch)
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cup coconut cream (little less than a 14oz can)
1 cup whole milk
Making the caramel:
In a small saucepan, bring 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil over medium heat.
Do not stir during the caramelization process. Cover with a lid, but watch it closely.
When the color turns amber, turn off the heat and carefully add 1 tbsp of water to cool it down, making sure the saucepan faces away from you.
Quickly pour into each of the 8 ramekins. Evenly distribute the caramel as best as you can.
You don’t need to swirl – the bottom doesn’t need to be evenly coated; baking them in a water bath will even the caramel out on its own.
Set aside the coated ramekins.
Making the custard:
Bring about a liter of water to a boil – this doesn’t need to be exact, we just need it later in the cooking process. Preheat oven to 300F.
In a bowl, gently whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar, salt, condensed milk. Don’t whisk furiously because we want to minimize bubbles.
Whisk in the coconut milk and whole milk until combined.
Strain out any solids using a sieve and transfer the mixture to a pourable jug or anything with a spout.
Baking the flan:
Pour the custard into each ramekin as evenly as possible – start small and then even out.
Place each ramekin into a large, deep baking pan or dish of some sort.
When the oven is preheated, pull the middle oven rack out halfway. Carefully place the baking pan/dish with the ramekins onto the rack.
Pour boiling water into the pan, being careful not to get any into the ramekins, about halfway up the ramekins.
Tear out foil and loosely top the pan with the foil – the ramekins just need to be covered.
Push back the rack, close the oven, and bake for 50 minutes until a toothpick poked in the middle of a flan comes out clean – there will still be a slight jiggle in the middle.
Carefully take each ramekin out of the pan and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
Chill and serve:
When the ramekins aren’t hot anymore, plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving; they will keep for several days in the fridge.
You can eat it straight from the ramekin – just make sure to get all the way to bottom for the caramel!
To serve others: carefully run a butter knife around the edges of the flan to loosen it up. Place an upturned plate on it. Carefully flip it over, plate down.
Lift up the ramekin and the flan should release, along with the liquid caramel flowing out. Serve like this or topped with some strawberries or shredded coconut!