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New Recipe Time – Chocoflan Cake (With Photos!)

We’ll start this story way back in March of 1993. Jonathan went to Ecuador on a short term missions project, and to see his sister who was a missionary there at the time.  While there, he experienced an excellent dessert called Flan. Thanks to the Food Network and the internet, we all probably have heard of it now. At the time, however, it seemed way too hard to attempt to make.

Fast forward 19 years. We are now in a newly formed Dinner Club where the hosts choose a menu and divvy up the courses of the meal to the attendees. Jonathan and I were asked to bring the dessert, which I thought was awesome. The whole evening was based on Rick Bayless and his Frontera recipes.  We had the choice of making….wait for it….Flan de Cafe or Chocoflan!  Jonathan was pretty excited that at last I would learn how to make this dessert.

I read through both recipes, and settled on the Chocoflan. I had more of the ingredients on hand, and a pan that it would fit in. I cheated a little bit, and made a test cake the day before our dinner party. Good thing. More about that later.

Here is the process, with the recipe…and in true Bredlow fashion, a few modifications.

The recipe calls for a 10 inch round cake pan with three inch sides. I couldn’t find one in Williams Sonoma when I was at the Mall of America the last time, so I started looking online for ideas.  I came across a video from Chef Marcela Valladolid from Food Network, where she made basically the same cake in a Bundt pan.  Excellent idea!

For the mold (Bundt pan) you will need

  • a little softened butter and some flour
  • 1 cup store-bought or homemade cajeta (goat milk caramel)

I found an 8 ounce jar of goat milk caramel at Williams Sonoma, which was the only “exotic” ingredient.

The goat milk caramel along with some of the wet ingredients.

Butter and flour the pan as you would for making any cake (or used a spray like Baker’s Joy or Pillsbury Baking Spray with Flour).

Pour the caramel into the bottom of the pan, and swirl it around a bit to spread it up the sides about a 1/2 inch.

For the cake:

  • 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons espresso or 2 tablespoons espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 9 ounces buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat water for a water bath. Use a pan with high sides to put the cake pan in for the water bath. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder together. Set aside. With an electric mixer (use the flat beater if you can), beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light in color and texture. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the egg and espresso.  Add half of the flour mixture, at medium-low speed, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat. Scrape the bowl, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat for one minute.

Sifting the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda

For the Flan:

  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla made with Madagascar vanilla beans and Prairie Grains Organic Vodka, and the rest of the flan ingredients.

Blend until smooth.

Flan ingredients in the blender.

Put cake batter in Bundt pan over the caramel

Cake batter in pan – layered over caramel

Gently pour flan mixture over cake batter.  It works well to pour the flan mixture into a small ladle and let it over flow.  (I couldn’t do that for the photo…my hands were full!)

Gently pour mixture over cake batter.

Place roasting pan and Bundt pan into the oven. Pour hot water up to an inch deep in cake pan surrounding the Bundt pan. Do not put water into the Bundt pan…just around it. While you are doing this step, you will notice the cake batter floating to the top of the pan. This is a good thing!

Batter is floating to the top. I used a Wilton 1/2 sheet pan for the water bath. You want the custard to cook gently, thus the water bath.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, except the very center. (Using the Bundt, the center will be done, however, the cake may jiggle a little bit. That’s okay.)

Remove from the water bath and cool to room temperature. This will take longer than one hour.  Remember earlier when I mentioned that it was a good thing that I tested this recipe? If you turn the cake out too soon, the flan layer will slide right off of the cake layer. Still delicious, just not very pretty. At all.

I put my cake in the refrigerator for a few hours to make sure it was chilled, and firm enough, to unmold.  Carefully run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake/flan to free the edges. Invert a rimmed serving platter over the cake pan, grasp the two firmly together, then flip the two of them over. Gently jiggle the pan back and forth several times to ensure that the cake/flan has dropped, then remove the pan. Scrape any remaining cajeta from the mold onto the cake.

This is how ours looked right before serving to our Dinner Club:

It was absolutely delicioso!  It is very rich, so we served coffee with it, which brought out the cocoa really well. I will most definitely be making this one again!

Now that I have this cake figured out, I’m thinking a caramel flan can’t be that hard!

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