Coconut-Lime “Flan”…Nailed!

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Oh, I have SOOOOOOOOOOOO many things to say about this post! Because this is a pretty complicated  recipe (at least for me), I’m going to give you the low down in bullet form so you’re not reading forever…

1. First, this recipe was inspired by my friend and farmer Adam Pyburn of Simple Rhythm Farm in Rougemont, NC. In a random conversation about sharing resources, we decided to forge a collaboration between his farm and Como Water. He’ll provide food from the farm and I’ll cook it! We’ll feature the recipes on both sites. Adam gets recipes and I get farm fresh food… WIN WIN! 😀 Right now, the farm has tons of eggs. And we all know what you do when you have tons of eggs!!! You make flan!

2. Second, this recipe is admittedly coconut-lime flan 2.0. Version 1.0 was a ‘no-go’ for a number of reasons. In the spirit of true honesty, here goes nothing:

a) The dark amber syrup of a traditional flan completely overpowered the delicate coconut-lime flavor, so I went with a light amber syrup. That’s why “flan” is in quotes. I know it’s not conventional, but it tastes good, so I think tradition will forgive me.

b) In the first version, I added thinly sliced limes to the bottom of the baking dishes before adding the caramel and custard. It was pretty, but WAY too bitter (in my opinion), so in 2.0, I got rid of the sliced limes.

c) I brought 1.0 to SEEDS and asked the youth and adult coordinators to give me their impressions. They agreed that the dark caramel was too much. They also said that they couldn’t taste the coconut. So, in 2.0, instead of using regular milk in addition to the evaporated and condensed milks, I used coconut milk. SCORE. They also said that they didn’t care for the texture of the coconut flakes in the custard. This is where we diverged. I liked the texture a lot. The compromise in 2.0 was to give a rough chop to the shredded coconut before adding it to the custard. I still liked the texture. I’ll have to make this again for the SEEDS folks to see if they approve.

d) I didn’t use a bain-marie in version 1.0. BAD idea. I should have known better. They cooked too quickly and didn’t have that silky texture that I got with using the water bath in 2.0.

I brought version 2.0 to Poker Night on Sunday. SCORE and SCORE. Folks thought this version was creamy and sweetened perfectly. Most importantly, this more gentle syrup still allowed the delicate lime and coconut flavors to shine through. All in all, I’m pretty freaking pleased with the way it turned out! And pretty proud that it only took two takes to get it “right.”

Thank goodness for kitchen experimentation, Adam’s farm fresh eggs, and the SEEDS official Como Water taste testers! 😉

Coconut-Lime “Flan” … Nailed! (Printable Recipe)


1 2/3 cups sugar, divided

1 14 oz. can condensed milk

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

1/2 cup coconut milk

5 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

pinch salt (~ 1/2 teaspoon)

juice from 1 lime

zest from 1 lime


*Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Add empty baking dishes (1 large round or oblong baking dish, 4-6 ramekins, two pie plates, or some combination of these depending on your desired texture!) to oven.

*In a blender, blend eggs. Add milks, salt, vanilla, zest, coconut and 2/3 cup of sugar. Blend for two minutes. Set aside.

*Heat a kettle of water until boiling. Keep warm on the stove top.

*In a heavy medium-sized saucepan, heat 1 cup sugar and lime juice on medium heat. Swirl (Do not stir, you run the risk of getting sugar crystals!) the sugar and lime juice in the pan until sugar completely dissolves and the syrup becomes a light amber color (not a medium or dark amber color like traditional flan).

*Once your sugar syrup has reached the proper color, turn the heat off. Remove the baking dish(es) from the oven (keep the oven on) and add them to a larger baking vessel so that you can create a bain-marie (water bath). If using multiple baking dishes, divide your syrup between the dishes; if using just one dish add all of the syrup to the one dish.  Swirl the syrup along the bottom of the dish and set aside so that the syrup can harden. Once hardened (~ 15 minutes), re-blend the custard mixture for 1 minute. Add the custard to the prepared baking dishes. Pour the hot water into the larger vessel so that the water reaches halfway up the sides of your baking dishes. FINALLY, you are ready to bake!

*Add baking dishes to the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. The baking time will depend on the size and depth of your baking dishes. I baked the small, thin hearts for about 25 minutes and the larger ceramic dish for about 40 minutes. Once the custard is set, remove the larger vessel from the oven and remove the smaller baking dishes from the water bath. Let cool at room temperature. After 30 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the baking dish to loosen the custard from the sides of the baking dish. Cover the dish(es) with foil, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

*When ready to serve, re-run knife around the edges, put a larger plate on top of the baking dish, and flip both the baking dish and the plate over. Tap the bottom of the baking dish (which, now, should be facing up) and remove the baking dish. The custard will plop out (sorry there’s no other way to say this), along with a delicate syrup. Serve cold. Mmmmmmmmm.



Written by

Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DC’s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantra—love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!


  1. This looks and sounds marvelous! I may have to try making flan now.

  2. Looks and sounds delicious! Love the silky texture.

  3. super delicous looking! kudos to you for trying again! ps love the color of the heat coil in your oven! lol..

    • Haha! You peeped that! 😀

  4. SCORE. Coconut milk is a GODSEND. My best Arroz con Leche is done with solely coconut milk (and some rum, sugar and lime zest 😉 I wonder how a fruit based syrup would do? maybe guava, to capitalize on the caribbean?
    How is the consistency? the trickiest think about flan, i think its the wobble factor. that’s why people are totally 50/50 on loving or loathing flan, i think.

    I’m not a die hard fan, but thankfully, my abuela bequeathed her own abuela’s flan recipe to me and it borders on cheesecake, its so rich… lol

    • Vera that arroz sound amazing!!!! Perhaps you can do a guest post for como water with that dish. YUM! And yes, I love the idea of a fruit-based syrup… melting guava paste into a simple syrup would be AWESOME! I, like you, and not a huge flan fan. The eggy texture always threw me off. This is much creamier. I seriously think it was the coconut milk! Let us know if you try it!!!

  5. I’ve never been a big fan of traditional flan, but your coconut lime flan is an awesome alternative. It’s more like creme brulee with exotic flavors. Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe.

  6. It is a very original receipt. I love flans so it will not take long till I try it.

  7. Ooooo this sounds wonderful!! Coconut and lime mmmmmm! And I love your flan dishes… so pretty.

  8. I love coconut flan :) but I have never tried with lime before. This recipe sounds so genius :) Your flan looks so perfect and delicate :)

  9. I absolutely love coconut flan, but have never added lime for fear it would overpower the coconut flavor. I will definitely give this a try!

  10. Wow, this is delicious!! I bet that lime flavour is just perfect!

  11. These are gorgeous! I love flan and I love key lime pie… this may be a dangerous post for me. :)

    • Everything in moderation! :)

  12. Oh wow. These look incredible. I have to admit I have never tried flan, but after reading and seeing your photos I want it now :) Good job. Thanks for sharing. Looks fantastic.

  13. I love it when a recipe finally comes together, it looks great! I love the lime/coconut flavor!

  14. I don’t even like flan but this sounds good! Good job TMG :-)

  15. It looks totally delish! Thanks for stopping by http://www.apronofgrace too:)

  16. That is a good arrangement you have with your farmer friend. WIN WIN indeed. Lime and coconut is WIN WIN too. I love that you persisted until you had a dessert you were happy with. This sounds totally Worth The Calories.

  17. I LOVE the idea of this (“put the lime in the coconut…”) if ONLY I liked flan! :(
    But I commend you it looks far as flans go that is 😉

  18. I love the flavor combo of the coconut and lime in this flan. I can just imagine how creamy and delicious it is!

  19. buzzes for version 2.0 :) it looks awesome; great heart-shaped baking trays.

  20. I am glad you did all the work here, because this looks fabulous and now I know what NOT to do, as well as what to do.

  21. So gorgeous! I seriously dig your trial and error stories – and I love the flavors here – Lime in the Coconut for sure! Great job!

  22. Happy for you that 2nd time you nailed it 😉 Looks absolutely delicious!

  23. WOW .. just WOW ! you NAILED it .. really ! I am saving this, and i know it will take time to get to perfection.. but i like your recipe the best

  24. Loved it! I love Flan, but the Coconut and Lime is sensational!

  25. Nailed it, indeed. I never think to make flan, even though it’s one of my favouritest desserts ever… and I just love the whole lime and coconut spin you’ve put on this on. Adding this to my must-try file!

  26. You go Girl!! Are you still doing the Happy Dance? Awesome flavor combos and those are the cutest dishes.

    • Haha! I think I’m STILL doing the happy dance 😀

  27. I have never made flan and I had no idea how to even begin until now! I am just imagining those flavors mingling together…that sounds delicious! I’m glad you perfected it and it came out so well!

  28. this is just wonderful!

  29. My husband I love any coconut lime combo, so this flan would be perfect for us. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for doing all of the trials.

  30. Ooh pretty. It’s hard getting flan in singapore…

  31. I can’t believe it only took two tries to nail it! Nice work, this one goes in the keeper pile.

  32. This looks and sounds amazing! I love your twist on the traditional flan too. Yum!

  33. Those heart trays are so cute!
    And your flan looks perfect…very neat work.

  34. Wow, those this dessert is almost too good for a poker night…unless it’s high stakes :)

  35. Wow, this dessert is almost too good for a poker night…unless it’s high stakes :)

  36. Looks so good. Love anything with coconut 😉 and love the heart dishes, so cute!

  37. oh wow. love lime and coconut together. this sounds sooooo good!

  38. This looks great! Though I have to say at first I thought your title was “Flan… Failed!” haha! I was like… Um… why does it look so good then… Yes I’m slow! Seriously, this is great Tiff!

  39. Looks great and most importantly I know it will taste divine!!! Brava Tiffany! Great job!!!! :-)))))

  40. Talk about beautiful! I wish I could be a taste tester around your place :-) I love flan, but I’ve always been too intimidated to make it at home. Thank you for sharing this loveliness tonight. I hope that tomorrow is full of happy moments, joyful conversation and plates of satisfying food!

  41. Gorgeous flavours in this flan, it looks so much nicer than the mass produced ones you get in the display fridges in the restaurants here, yuk!! Yours is like a tropical creme brulee, key lime pie hybrid, what could be better?!!

    • What a great description! That’s exactly what it tasted like!!!

  42. Sounds complicated to me.. But you did it! And it looks delicious! So congratulations :)

    • It was… but it was worth it!

  43. Gorgeous! And what a perfect partnership … meaning the ingredients of coconut and lime and of course you and Mr farmer 😀

  44. I LOVE flan. It was the very first thing I ever had to eat when I arrived in France so has special memories. BUT it wasn’t as good as this. The flavours of coconut and lime…oooh. Bliss. Well done you for the bain marie part. Great idea with the farmer-recipe share, too!

  45. wowww I am impressed by your work..looks testy and so pretty!

  46. “You put the lime and the coconut and mix them both together…” in a flan?!? Fabulous.

  47. Wow! Gorgeous flan! Glad you persevered…I need a spoon!!!

  48. love the flavours and your post, sometimes you just have to give it more than one go and it’s worth it looks so silky, love that description!

  49. What a unique flan! Sounds like you have a pretty solid deal with Adam! And a pretty solid recipe for some flan!

  50. DROOOL!!!!! Something as perfect and fabulous as this won’t be perfected in the first round…Looks like the second time was the charm! :)

  51. This looks mouthwatering delicious! Coconut and lime is a winning combination in my book and this looks about as perfect as it gets!

  52. This sounds like the best flan ever! Coconut and lime woohoo! And congrats on nailing it…nothing more satisfying than when you’ve made a dish several times and not been satisfied and then you finally get it right. I love that feeling! And I can’t wait to make this flan :-)

  53. Mmmm… I love the flavor of coconut with lime, and I love flan. The two together sound like a hit!

  54. Thanks everyone for the great comments!!!

  55. This “flan” looks awesome!!! I love that you used coconut milk and that you can see the lime zest. I bet the zest gave it a really bright flavor! Oh and I love your heart shaped ramekins :)

  56. I’m going to try it!!! I love coconut and I love lime… not so sure about the flan. But if you like it, I might too. I’m going to try!!

  57. Beautiful! Coconut + lime makes me feel like I’m on vacation

  58. Hi Tiffany, Thank you for being a part of March’s YBR. Love your flan version.

  59. The recipe is very detailed. The photos are helpful too. Thanks for the hard work!

  60. I know this is an older post but I just found it. YUM. I love flan. I will have to try this version. P.S. Super cute heart ramekins!