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
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.