I was looking for a dessert, not too sweet and not chocolate, that would compliment and balance my Asian inspired menu for the lunar new year. You may be familiar with some of my other custard desserts; creme caramel and coffee flan recipes. This coconut flan utilizes the same techniques and similar ingredients. The difference is that it uses coconut milk rather than cows milk, making it a good dairy free option.
Begin the process for coconut flan by making the caramel. Slowly melt the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. When the sugar is completely liquified and turns a beautiful golden color, it needs to be poured rapidly and carefully into six ounce custard baking cups or ramekins.
The next step is to make the custard. A custard is always a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar and flavorings. My recipes for creme caramel and coffee flan use milk and half and half respectively. For this coconut flan recipe, you will use unsweetened coconut milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla or rum for flavoring. I chose to use dark rum to flavor the custard. The custard only needs to be gently whisked. Always strain the custard before pouring it into the ramekins to make sure that all of the egg particles have been removed.
The next step in preparing a custard before baking is to make a bain marie. A bain marie is literally a “water bath” that will allow the custards to cook slowly and gently. After you place the caramel filled cups in a deep glass baking dish, the cups will be filled with custard. Before placing the baking dish in the oven, fill the baking dish with boiling water half way up the sides of the ramekins. Voila, a bain marie to cook your coconut flans!
After baking and allowing the flans to set, they need to be cooled and refrigerated. It is best to make the flans the day before serving so they can set. I served mine with fresh strawberries. The coconut flan was the perfect ending to my lunar new year dinner. Happy Lunar New Year !