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
¾ cup cream of coconut (or coconut milk)
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.
Growing up in the Philippines, we ate Leche Flan Cake all the time. Filipino Leche Flan Cake is a rectangular sponge cake with a thin layer of flan on top of it. It was a special treat and one that we kids loved. There was a canteen at my Lolo’s (grandpa’s) office that sold it for a few cents a serving.
I had never heard of “Chocoflan” Cake until I came to the United States. It’s apparently a Mexican favorite and is just like Filipino Leche Flan Cake only made with chocolate cake and with a much thicker layer of flan. It’s also baked in a bundt pan instead of a rectangular cake pan.
When I originally learned to make Chocoflan Cake years ago, you poured cajeta sauce over the cake before serving. I didn’t like that very much. I thought the cajeta sauce was way too sweet and had a flavor I didn’t particularly care for, so I dropped that step. We also used whole milk in the flan but I like the richness imparted by evaporated milk much better. One day I thought, “what if I add some dulce de leche as a surprise layer in the dessert?” That idea turned out to be a big hit with my kids so I’ve done it that way ever since.
I have to warn you, whenever I make this cake, the dulce de leche layer never ends up in the same place! Sometimes it ends up right at the top of the cake, sometimes it sits in the center between the flan and the cake, sometimes it’s thicker on one side than on the other, sometimes it’s all pooled on one side with nothing on the other! I have tried numerous times to make it end up consistently at the top of the cake to no avail. I finally gave up. Who cares? The point is, the cake is to die for and the little surprise bites of dulce de leche are absolutely scrumptious! You’ve really got to try this recipe. I promise it’s worth every bite!
We ate Leche Flan Cake all the time when we were growing up in the Philippines. There was a canteen near my Lolo’s (grandpa’s) office that sold it for a few cents a slice. It was always such a treat to go visit my Lolo at work because he invariably would give us some money to run down to the canteen for a slice of Leche Flan Cake. Looking back, I think it was probably his way of getting rid of a bunch of noisy kids so he could work in peace for a while. LOL! Either way, I always thought the cake was the best part of visiting my Lolo at his work. Now, I make my own leche flan cake and hopefully, it’s created some fond memories for my own kids to look back on, too.
Traditional leche flan cake has a thin layer of flan on top of a thick layer of cake, but my Old Goat would always ask if I could make the flan layer thicker (like I do with Chocoflan Cake). So I finally gave in and that’s why my leche flan cake doesn’t look anything like traditional Filipino leche flan cakes. I have to admit he was right though. I do like it better with a thicker layer of flan. The fam sure does, too. And so will you!
FILIPINO LECHE FLAN CAKE
For the Caramel Sauce:
2 cups white sugar
Pour sugar into 9×13-inch metal baking pan and set on stove over low heat.
Cook sugar until it melts and begins to turn caramel colored.
Tilt pan so caramel coats the bottom evenly. Use oven mitts! The pan will be hot!
Set aside to cool. The caramel will harden and could crack as it cools. Don’t worry. This is normal.
For the Leche Flan:
2 whole eggs
4 egg yolks (save the whites for another use)
2 cans evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
In a bowl whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, evaporated milk, condensed milk, sugar, and vanilla.
Pour the mixture over the cooled caramel in the baking pan.
For the Cake:
1½ cups cake flour
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
¾ cup oil
4 egg yolks (save the whites to make meringue)
1 tsp. vanilla
Sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Make a well in the center.
In a small bowl, whisk the milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla.
Pour the milk mixture into the well of dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
Set batter aside and make meringue.
For the Meringue:
4 egg whites
½ tsp. cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until frothy.
Decrease speed to medium and gradually add the sugar.
Continue beating on medium until eggs whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.
Take a third of the meringue and carefully fold it into the cake batter to lighten it.
Fold the rest of the meringue into the cake batter until no more white streaks remain.
Pour batter slowly over the leche flan mixture in baking pan.
Place baño maria (water bath) inside oven. You can use a large roasting pan for this.
Fill with enough water to come at least halfway up sides of baking pan.
Turn oven on and preheat to 325ºF.
When oven is ready, carefully lower baking pan with batter into hot water in baño maria.
Close oven door and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.
Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely; then chill in refrigerator overnight.
Run a knife along the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan.
Turn cake out onto serving platter with a rim to catch any caramel sauce that might drip.
Leche Flan is one of those desserts that was brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards many years ago. It was quickly adopted and before long, every Filipino household had their own version. I learned to make Leche Flan from my grandmother whose original recipe called for a dozen egg yolks! I’ve since modified it to make it less of a cholesterol bomb. LOL!
There are just a few caveats to remember when making Leche Flan. Number 1 – be careful when you’re melting the sugar for the caramel sauce! It’s very hot and can give you a nasty burn. Make sure you protect your hands with oven mitts when swirling the mold to coat it with the hot caramel.
The caramel will harden as it cools so work as quickly (but carefully) as possible when swirling the mold to coat the bottom and sides. The caramel coating will set in a hard shell. As the shell completely cools, the change in temperature can cause it to start cracking. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal. Just pour the custard into the sugar shell, ignoring any cracks, and proceed with the recipe.
You can make the flan in one big mold or in individual ramekins. Either works fine. I hope you’ll give this rich, creamy, delicious dessert a try. I know you’ll love it!
SPANISH LECHE FLAN
¾ cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
Place the sugar in a leche flan mold or metal bowl and heat over medium-low heat until sugar is completely melted and begins to turn a golden caramel color. Swirl to coat bottom and sides of mold. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.
Pour the custard through a strainer into the flan mold which has been coated with the caramelized sugar.
Cover flan mold with tin foil and place in a large roasting pan filled with enough water to come at least half way up the sides of the mold.
Bake at 350° for one hour. Remove the foil cover and check for doness by giving the pan a shake. You want the custard to be firm but still have a little jiggle in the center. If it’s not quite ready, replace the foil and bake another 30 minutes or until done.
Remove from water bath and allow to cool completely before refrigerating.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Invert onto a serving platter with a lip to catch the sauce. Serve cold.