This cake is a play on my Chocoflan Cake. I was making a Chocoflan Cake for Cinco de Mayo and I started thinking how fun it would be to make a coconut flavored flan cake, so I went out to buy ingredients for a test drive. It took a few trial runs over the next few weekends, but eventually my Cocoflan Cake was born! Thankfully my family doesn’t mind being the guinea pigs who have to taste and EAT all my kitchen experiments.
I like how this final version turned out. The dessert isn’t overly sweet, the cake is moist, and the flan is smooth and creamy. It looks like a lot of steps, but if you read through the recipe, it’s really not hard to do. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup macapuno, you can add more if you like
4 ozs. (½ box) cream cheese
1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 small can (5.4 oz.) cream of coconut
2 tsp. coconut extract
½ cup butter, at room temperature
¼ cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
Prepare a water bath by placing a roasting pan half full of water into the oven.
Turn oven on to 350ºF to preheat.
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place on stove over low heat.
Let come to a boil and continue to cook until sugar starts to caramelize. Watch it carefully! The sugar can burn in an instant.
Once the sugar starts turning reddish brown, take it off the heat immediately. It will continue to darken and you don’t want it getting bitter.
Pour the sugar syrup into a bundt pan and swirl the bundt pan around so the bottom gets evenly coated with the sugar syrup. Be careful. The bundt pan will get very hot so use oven mitts!
Distribute the macapuno evenly over the sugar syrup.
Set the bundt pan aside to cool.
To prepare flan mixture, place cream cheese in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for about 30 seconds so the cream cheese becomes very soft.
Add the condensed milk to the softened cream cheese and whisk together with a wire whisk until well-blended.
Add the coconut milk, eggs, and coconut extract, whisking together well.
Set flan mixture aside while you prepare the cake batter.
To make the cake batter, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
In a small bowl, stir the cream of coconut and coconut extract together.
With an electric mixer set on high speed, beat butter and coconut oil together until smooth.
Slowly add sugar, continuing to beat until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of cream of coconut mixture.
Beat until just combined.
Pour the cake batter on top of the macapuno-sugar syrup in the bundt pan, smoothing the batter evenly with a rubber spatula.
Slowly pour the flan mixture through a sieve over the cake batter. Don’t worry if it sinks or causes the batter to separate in clumps.
Cover bundt pan tightly with a piece of tin foil and place into water bath in oven.
Bake for 1 hour, then remove foil and bake uncovered for 30 minutes more or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
Remove from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature; then place in refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, invert cake onto a large cake plate or serving platter.
This cake is best prepared a day or two in advance and kept chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
Macapuno is a Filipino delicacy. It’s basically shredded young coconut that’s been cooked in syrup to preserve it. It’s sold in jars in Asian food markets. If you can’t find macapuno, you can omit it from this recipe.
Maja Blanca is a traditional Filipino dessert. It’s kindof like a coconut pudding studded with kernels of corn. It sounds strange to think of coconut and corn together, but believe me this dessert is sooo good, you’ll find yourself coming back for seconds and thirds. I think Maja Blanca is traditionally topped with latik which is basically coconut milk curds. To make latik, you bring some coconut milk to a simmer and keep simmering till the oil separates from the milk solids which eventually start to fry in the oil and and turn into little brown curds. It’s a lot of work. My shredded coconut topping is way easier.
When you shop for the canned milks for this recipe, you’ll need to buy:
4 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
From the 4 cans of coconut milk, you’ll be able to get 5 cups for the 1st Mixture, but you won’t have enough left over to make 2 cups for the 2nd Mixture. Never fear. What you’re going to do is pour the last of the coconut milk into your 2-cup measure and then add enough of the liquid drained from the whole kernel corn to make 2 cups.
Same thing with the evaporated milk. You won’t have enough in the can to make 2 cups but it’s not worth opening a whole ‘nother can when you’re just a little bit short, so pour the evaporated milk into your measuring cup and then add enough corn liquid drained from the whole kernel corn to make the 2 cups that you’ll need for the 1st Mixture. If you run out of corn liquid, go ahead and use water. It’ll be fine.
5 cups coconut milk
2 cups evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
1 can (14¾ oz.) cream-style corn
1 can (15.25 oz.) whole kernel corn, drain and reserve the liquid
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups cornstarch
Grease a rectangular pyrex glass baking dish or metal baking pan with butter or margarine.
Mix all the ingredients of the 1st Mixture together in a large pot.
In a bowl, mix together the ingredients of the 2nd Mixture using a wire whisk until smooth.
Bring 1st Mixture to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally.
When boiling, pour the 2nd Mixture into the pot, scraping it all in with a rubber spatula, and continue to cook, stirring constantly until thick. The mixture will thicken really fast so this step is best done by two people. One person to stir the pot while the other person pours the 2nd Mixture into it.
Quickly pour maja into prepared baking pan.
Toasted Sweet Coconut Topping:
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Melt butter in a frying pan.
Add grated coconut and sugar and toast, stirring constantly until golden brown. Watch carefully because the coconut burns fast!
Sprinkle toasted sweet coconut over maja blanca.
NOTE: If you can’t get fresh grated coconut, you can substitute unsweetened dessicated coconut. If you can’t get unsweetened dessicated coconut, you can use sweetened dessicated coconut but cut the 1/2 cup sugar down to 2 tablespoons.
This is a big recipe so it’s great for potlucks or family gatherings. It makes enough to fill a 9×13 rectagular baking dish with enough left over to fill an 8-inch round pie plate. If you have a dish bigger than 9×13, use it.
My mom used to make tapioca pudding for us all the time when we were growing up in the Philippines but since fresh cow’s milk was not very easily obtainable, she made it with evaporated milk or evaporada as we called it. I have to say, we love tapioca pudding made with evaporated milk more than fresh milk. The evaporated milk gives it a creaminess and a rich flavor that you just don’t get from plain, bland cow’s milk. Give this recipe a try and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
FLUFFY TAPIOCA PUDDING
1 egg, separated
6 tbsp. sugar, divided
3 tbsp. MINUTE tapioca
2 cups evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat egg white in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until foamy.
Gradually add 3 tbsp. sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
Mix tapioca, remaining sugar, milk and egg yolk in medium saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes.
Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full boil. Remove from heat.
Quickly fold egg white mixture into hot tapioca in saucepan until well blended.
Stir in vanilla.
Cool 20 minutes; stir.
Serve warm or chilled.
For creamier pudding, place plastic wrap on surface of pudding while cooling.
Stir before serving.
NOTE: Store leftover pudding in refrigerator.
TO PREPARE DIFFERENT SERVING SIZES:
To Double: Use 1/3 cup tapioca and double all other ingredients.
Makes 6½ cups or 8-10 servings.
To Halve: Use 1 egg and 1/2 of the other ingredients.
Makes 1¾ cups or 2-3 servings.
Mangoes are indigenous to the Philippines. They grow quite a few different varieties all over the country. Filipinos love to eat them ripe and sweet, or green and sour. Philippine mangoes, in my opinion, are the best in the world. My favorite is the variety they call Carabao Mangoes. Their thin, smooth skins are easy to peel and hide a golden orb of juicy sweetness that’s unrivaled by any other country’s. South American mangoes, though good, are very fibrous. In contrast, Philippine mangoes have very little fiber. You could cut one open and eat the flesh with a spoon.
We had two huge mango trees in our garden when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of sitting under the shade of the trees on lazy afternoons, reading a book or drawing. When harvest time came, we would get baskets and baskets full of bright yellow fruit from the overloaded branches. Way more fruit than we could ever eat. Our cook would make mango desserts, mango jam, and “burong mangga” (sweet pickled mangoes). We also gave away lots to friends and neighbors.
Mango Float is a very popular dessert in the Philippines. How this dessert got its name, I have no idea. To me, the name Mango Float conjures up images of a milkshake-type drink. Nothing at all like what this dessert is truly like. It’s rich and creamy and utterly delicious. You’ll find yourself wanting a second and third helping, it’s so good. And because it’s so easy to make, you’ll find yourself wanting to make it again and again.
4 large ripe mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cans (12.8 ozs. each) Nestlé table cream
1-2 cans (14 ozs. each) condensed milk
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt, optional
1 box graham crackers
Whisk the Nestlé cream, 1 can condensed milk, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined.
Taste the cream mixture. If you want it sweeter, open the second can of condensed milk and add more, a tablespoon at a time, until the cream is sweetened to your liking.
Arrange graham crackers in a single layer at the bottom of a 9×13″ pyrex glass baking dish. Cut and trim the crackers with a knife as needed to fit the baking dish.
Spread 1/3 of the cream mixture over the graham crackers.
Top with a layer of sliced mangoes.
Repeat layering two more times with graham crackers, then cream, and ending with mango slices.
Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
NOTE: If you want thicker layers of cream between the graham crackers, add 1 can of Nestlé cream and ½ can of condensed milk to the cream mixture, then taste for sweetness and increase condensed milk by the tablespoon, if desired. No need to increase the vanilla and salt.
Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert that’s become very popular all over the United States. It’s a custard-like confection made of cream sweetened with sugar and thickened with gelatin. Though it’s made with rich cream, it’s surprisingly light, and the ease of making it belies how fancy it looks.
To serve, I like to loosen the panna cottas from the ramekins and turn them out onto dessert plates, then pour some sauce carefully around each panna cotta. You could also just pour the sauce on top of the panna cottas in their ramekins and serve them that way. Mint leaves and fresh raspberries make a pretty garnish.
When “Walking Dead” season starts, we have dinner at my sister and brother-in-law’s house every Sunday night. Helen, Anthony, Old Goat Honey, and I are huge fans of “The Walking Dead.” Unlike Helen, Anthony, and Old Goat, however, I never liked zombie movies. In fact, I don’t really like horror movies at all! At least not the gory ones. I made the mistake of watching “Friday the 13th” once when I was younger (if you can call peeking between my fingers “watching”) and I had nightmares for weeks afterwards! But for some reason, “The Walking Dead” has drawn me in just like thousands of other fans. So during the season, Old Goat and I trek faithfully over to Helen and Anthony’s house every Sunday where we all have dinner and then sit down to watch the show together.
Dinner preparations are usually a combination affair. Helen makes some of the dishes and I make the others. This Sunday, I offered to be in charge of the entrée and the dessert. Since I was going to be making the main entrée, I thought I should do something simple for dessert. I used to make this banana pudding for my kids all the time when they were little. It’s one of those dishes on my list of “Comfort Foods.” And what could be more fitting when you’re watching a scary movie than a comfort food dish?
BANANA CREAM PUDDING
1½ cups cold water
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 box (5.7 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups heavy cream
1 box Lorna Doone shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers
6-8 bananas, sliced (depends on how big your bananas are)
Mix together the water, condensed milk, and pudding mix until smooth.
Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until it sets up.
Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Working in thirds, fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until well incorporated.
In a trifle bowl, layer vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture; continue until you’ve used up all the pudding mixture.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
If desired, sprinkle some crumbled cookies and add some fresh banana slices on top for garnish right before you serve.
Jackie was my classmate in school from the time we were in kindergarten all the way through high school. We hit it off right away and became fast friends. On one of my visits to her house (I think we were only in the 5th grade then), her mom served us some cream puffs and I absolutely loved them. Even at that tender age, I was interested in cooking. I asked for the recipe which Jackie wrote out on an index card for me. To this day, I still use that same recipe carefully handwritten on that old, now yellowed index card.
Over the years, I’ve kept the ingredients true to the original recipe, but I’ve changed the procedure a bit for baking them. For instance, the original recipe called for baking the puffs for 20 minutes, then turning the oven off and letting them sit for 10 minutes in the turned off oven with the oven door slightly ajar. I just bake them for about 25 minutes straight and then I’m done. Cream puffs are a wonderful French invention. Known as “pâte à choux” in France, they are amazing in their versatility and swing from sweet to savory with a simple switch of the filling. They can be filled with custard, pastry cream, whipped cream, or ice cream, or for a savory appetizer or brunch dish, fill them with chicken salad, curried shrimp, tuna or crab salad, creamed turkey, or whatever your heart desires.
1 cup water
½ cup butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line two cookie sheets with silpat silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a rolling boil.
Add flour all at once, keeping pan on the heat, and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball.
Remove pan from heat and still using wooden spoon, beat in eggs, one at a time, until all eggs are well blended. If you want, you can use a hand mixer for this step.
Spoon or pipe onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Depending on how small or large you make them, you should get between 16-24 puffs.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until medium golden brown.
Allow to cool completely; then fill with desired filling.
I love fruit tarts. The crisp crust encasing a creamy custard filling topped with sweet fruit. Yummm! It’s one of my all-time favorite desserts! This tart is nice because it’s so versatile. Once you fill your crust with the custard, you can top it with any fruit you like. I’ve made it with peaches, strawberries, bananas, mandarin oranges, a combination of strawberries and blueberries, etc.
I had some really nice mangoes so decided to use them for a fruit tart. Then I decided to take on the ambitious task of arranging the mango slices to look like a flower. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. If you want to do the same, just peel your mango, slice the two sides away from the seed, then cut each side into thin slices. Arrange the mango slices starting with a small circle in the center and going around and around till you reach the outer crust. The number of mangoes you need depends on how big they are and how tightly you arrange your mango “petals.”
In the movie “City of Angels,” when Seth (Nicholas Cage) asks Maggie (Meg Ryan) to describe to him what a pear tastes like, she says, “Sweet, juicy, soft on your tongue, grainy like sugary sand that dissolves in your mouth.” It’s the perfect description for this unpretentious little fruit.
We don’t have pears in the Philippines so I’d never tasted them before coming to America. My mother-in-law (who was Dutch) loved them, though, so I always made sure to buy some whenever she came to visit. I learned to love them because of her. This recipe is actually one of the very first pies I learned to make when I arrived in the United States as a teenager. It’s an easy recipe and has long been one of our family’s treasured favorites.
1 unbaked, 9-inch, deep dish pie crust (store-bought frozen, or make your own)
2 pears (Anjou, Bartlett, or Bosc pears are good for baking)
1 cup white sugar
⅓ cup flour
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Line pie crust with parchment paper or foil and fill bottom with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake pie crust for 8 minutes, then remove parchment paper and pie weights, and continue to bake another 3-5 minutes until light brown.
Remove crust from oven and set aside.
Lower oven temperature to 350ºF.
Peel, core, and slice each pear into 8 wedges for a total of 16 wedges.
Arrange pear slices in pie crust like spokes of a wheel with narrow ends toward center and overlapping. You can slice portions of the narrow ends off to make them thinner and easier to overlap and fit in the crust. I usually take one of the pear slices, cut the thicker end off and lay it over the center to cover the overlapping ends. Also, you may not need all the pear slices depending on how big your pears are.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar together.
Add flour, melted butter, and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Pour custard over pear slices.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until custard jiggles slightly in the center when shaken.
I was asked to bring the dessert for the family’s 4th of July barbecue this year. I thought it would be fun to fix something red, white and blue. And what could be better than using ripe red strawberries, sweet blueberries and creamy custard? So I decided to make a berry trifle.
A trifle is an old English dessert. It’s traditionally made with sponge cake (usually dipped in sherry or some other wine), fruit, gelatin and whipped cream. I made this trifle without the alcohol, gelatin, or whipped cream, but it was still wiped out! Bashful decorated the top of the trifle with a berry flag which turned out really cute. It was the perfect dessert to take to the barbecue!
MIXED BERRY TRIFLE
1 package white cake mix (or bake your own from scratch)
1 can evaporated milk
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1 egg yolk
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup butter
fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
Bake cake according to package directions. You could use yellow cake mix if you don’t like white.
Cool the cake completely, then cut it into 1-inch chunks.
In a medium sauce pan, mix together the evaporated milk, sugar, flour, egg, egg yolk, and salt with a wire whisk.
Cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until thick and smooth.
Remove custard from heat and stir in butter until completely incorporated.
Allow custard to cool, then assemble trifle by layering cake, fruit, and custard in a trifle bowl. End with custard layer on top.
If desired, you could make a flag on top of the trifle with strawberries and blueberries as pictured.