Opposites do attract, and in epic dessert fashion! Discover the charm of Chocoflan – a masterful union of fudgy chocolate cake and creamy vanilla custard.
That little machine that makes chocolate and vanilla swirled ice cream might just be my favorite invention (second to air conditioning, of course). Why spend precious time at the counter pondering the age-old question of “chocolate or vanilla” when you can have both? “Both” (or “one of everything”) is, after all, my dining philosophy, and it’s one of the reasons I love to make this Chocoflan.
In one unassuming Bundt pan, you’ll construct the ultimate yin and yang of the dessert world: an unbelievably delicious, fudgy chocolate cake topped with a velvety, rich, vanilla-spiked flan. It’s a sweet treat that can satisfy all the cravings at once!
We don’t know much about the chocoflan history, but we CAN thank the Romans for the original egg custard and the Spanish for topping it with a sweet pool of caramel. Mexico took the flan recipe and ran with it, creating the unique and interesting flavors you’ll find on restaurant menus or in cookbooks today. The Chocoflan origin is definitely Mexican, a popular sweet ending to birthdays and other special occasions there, and the mingling of flan with chocolate cake is muy deliciosa!
Although my Chocoflan receta (“recipe”) is a little more time-consuming than some of my recipes, do not be daunted. It’s definitely worth the extra ingredients and effort – waiting to dig in is the hardest part, I promise!
This is one of those desserts you’ll need to dust off your Bundt pan for. The center “chimney” helps ensure even cooking which is an important consideration for the delicate flan. These tubular baking apparatus come in lots of different shapes and sizes, so just make sure you choose one for this dish with a 12-cup capacity.
Although you can certainly make your own caramel, I like to use my favorite, store-bought version; it shortens the prep time a bit without sacrificing any flavor. You can also experiment with cajeta (used in the chocoflan Kraft recipe) which is a caramel made with goat’s milk and probably more traditional in this dish, or dulce de leche, a slowly thickened condensed milk (and a guilty pleasure best enjoyed with a spoon right out of the can).
The chocoflan receta Nestle publishes uses the latter, and it produces a thick, almost pudding-like, caramel layer. I think my simple caramel is a better choice in this recipe to simply accent the texture and flavor of the flan; otherwise, you risk letting the bossy, toasted caramel-ness rule the palette.
Unlike the traditional cake batter in the chocoflan recipe Laura Vitale makes, I use buttermilk in my version. Buttermilk is a wonderful addition to cakes because of the light, tender crumb it produces and because of the complexity it adds with its subtle tang.
I also use both cocoa powder and melted bittersweet chocolate to up the chocolate flavor. Depending on the brand, “bittersweet” will be ~ 70% cacao, and that’s preferable in this dish to a semisweet or lower cacao product. Using deep, dark chocolate enhances the natural smoky, slightly acidic qualities of the confection without being overly sweet, and it’s the perfect partner for the flan.
Yes, you do put the cake batter on top of the caramel before adding the flan mixture. That’s because a little gravity-defying magic happens in the oven. This cake is sometimes called “pastel impossible” or “impossible cake” because the chocolate and flan layers actually swap places during the cooking process.
The leavening in the cake batter adds little bubbles, while the flan gets denser, so presto chango, the flan marries the caramel after all!
The flan layer uses sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and vanilla, all of which are pretty standard for a custard recipe. However, my version also includes a little cream cheese and a few additional egg yolks to help stabilize the mixture and avoid the curdled egg texture and air pockets you sometimes find in baked custard.
Just be sure to use pure vanilla extract in this recipe because it’s the primary flavor in the flan. Since my recipe also has a higher flan-to- cake ratio than a lot of others, we’re not cutting any corners!
You’ll want to bake the Chocoflan in a water bath to add even more protection against an off-texture custard, and it can chill in the fridge while you go on with the rest of your day or head off for a much-needed date with Mr. Sandman.
Although it can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time, it’s best eaten within a day or two. Feel free to add a dollop of whipped cream when you serve it, though it’s perfectas-is.
The complementary textures and flavors of my Chocoflan will delight your senses and appease the dueling dessert voices in your head.
Water bath – I know using a water bath adds a teeny bit of extra work to this recipe, but it’s totally worth it to ensure that rich, melt-in- your-mouth texture you want in a perfect flan. The water, which can’t get any hotter than its own boiling point (212 degrees), insulates the custard from the higher oven temp and stays at a consistent temp throughout the cooking process. Since egg proteins set at about the same temperature as water boils, this prevents overcooking and/or cracking. You’ll get the best results using hot or boiling water in the bath itself; otherwise the submerged part of the pan will start off at a cooler temp than the top and work against the whole even-baking thing you’re trying to accomplish. Be sure to use a nice sturdy pan (not one of those disposable aluminum things), and avoid an emergency-room level burn by retrieving just the cake pan when it’s done and letting the bath water cool completely in the oven before taking it out.
Cake Mix – If want to shrink the prep time a bit, take a tip from some chocoflan Allrecipes versions and use a chocolate cake mix. Prepare the batter as directed on the box and substitute it for my homemade one.
Make it Mini – If you want individual portions, you can make chocoflan cupcakes or use one of those cute mini Bundt or fluted pans. This recipe should make 18 – 24 mini cakes and will need to bake about 25 minutes. You should still cook these in a water bath.
More Mexican – You can really make this a Mexican chocoflan recipe and up the sophistication by infusing the cake batter with ½ to 1 whole teaspoon of ground cinnamon (a combination you’re familiar with if you’ve ever had a warm mug of Mexican hot chocolate) or even a touch of chipotle powder.
- Yield: Serves 14
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1h 30 min
- Caramel Sauce or Topping - 1/2 Cup
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons
- Cocoa Powder - 1/3 Cup
- Baking Soda - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Salt - 1/8 Teaspoon
- Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped - 4 Ounces
- Unsalted Butter - 6 Tablespoons
- Buttermilk - 1/2 Cup
- Sugar - 1/2 Cup
- Large Eggs - 2
- Vanilla Extract - 1 Teaspoon
- Sweetened Condensed Milk - 2 (14-Ounce Each) Cans
- Whole Milk - 2 1/2 Cups
- Cream Cheese - 6 Ounces
- Eggs - 6 Large
- Egg Yolks - 4 Large
- Vanilla Extract - 1 Teaspoon
Make the Cake:
- Move oven rack to middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 12 Cup nonstick Bundt pan with butter.
- Spread the caramel sauce in the bottom of Bundt pan. Place Bundt pan in a roasting pan and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour,cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- Combine chocolate and butter in a large microwave safe bowl and microwave at 50% power, stirring occassionally, until mixture is melted 2-3 minutes. Stir buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Slowly add flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour cake batter into Bundt pan directly over caramel sauce.
Make the Flan:
- In a large blender, add all the flan ingredients and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Gently pour flan directly on top of cake batter in Bundt pan. Place Roasting pan (with the Bundt pan in it) in the preheated oven. Pour warm water into roasting pan until it measures halfway up the side of the Bundt pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and an instant read thermometer inserted into the flan reaches 180 degrees, about 75-90 minutes.
- Remove the cake pan from the roasting pan and allow to cool on a wire rack for 2 hours, then refridgerate (still in the Bundt pan) for a minimum of 8 hours to set.
- To unmold, set the bottom third of the Bundt pan in hot tap water for about 1 minute. Invert the cake onto a cake plate and slowly remove pan, allowing caramel to drizzle over the cake. Serve.