November 27, 2009 10:00 AM
Beachside coconut flan
POSTED IN: Recipes , Desserts
TAGS: Caramel , Coconut , Coconut Flan , Dessert , Flan , Sugar
Print This Page | Print Recipe | COMMENTS (17)

I do love the change of seasons in the Eastern United States. The fall leaves change to different shades and make fluffy mountains where the boys jump a thousand times in a single day. I also like the smell of winter winds waiting around the corner as our home heating starts to warm up. And I have so much fun getting all of us coats and hats and gloves, something I never did growing up.

But I do miss my piece of beachside coconut flan. The one I used to have in Acapulco, many Decembers ago, growing up. My favorite was from Pipo's, a restaurant in "la Costera", an old neighborhood along the beach. It has a creamy and smooth layer on top that blends into a bottom layer of softened and nicely chewy coconut. I have tried a couple versions and the best one is also the simplest one.

Beachside Coconut Flan 2.jpgFirst, make homemade caramel. Some cooks like to make caramel mixing sugar with lime juice or water, I prefer the most straightforward way: plain sugar over low-medium heat. Simply pour sugar onto a saucepan and gently tilt the pan, here and there, as the sugar starts to melt.

You need to be a bit patient, as the caramel is jealous: if you leave it unattended it will burn and taste bitter.

Beachside Coconut Flan 3.jpg
As it starts to melt it will look like this... glorious mountain shapes of sugar starting to caramelize... Once it becomes liquid you have choices. The lighter the color of the caramel, the mellower the taste. If you let it brown it will gain a deeper flavor, more nutty and strong. However, if you let it brown to long, it may taste bitter. And that can happen fast.

Beachside Coconut Flan 4.jpgThis is the color I like. It is rich, with a lot of personality and makes a great combination with the sweet and mellow flan.

Beachside Coconut Flan 5.jpg
Quickly pour it into individual molds or round tube pan, it does harden fast.

Now it's time to make the flan. As much as you had to be patient and careful with the caramel (after you make it a couple times it becomes an easy task) making the flan requires a minute of mixing a couple things in the blender.

Beachside Coconut Flan 6.jpgThe secret to this coconut flan, (also featured in this profile) is to use unsweetened dried shredded coconut, now found in many stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. It sounds redundant, but sweetened coconut makes it too sweet and gives the flan a shallow taste. 

Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk, a cup of water, a couple eggs and the coconut in the blender. Puree until smooth and pour over the hardened caramel.

Beachside Coconut Flan 7.jpg
Place it in a hot water bath, a baking dish filled with hot water up to at least half the height of the molds, and place it in the oven, about 35 minutes later, you have your flan.

Beachside Coconut Flan 8.jpg
Now, everyone has their favorite flan. As far as I have tried there's orange, chocolate, rum, cajeta (similar to dulce de leche), rompope (eggnog), pine nut, pecan, ancient style and fellow food blogger Heidi loves Flan al Tequila.

As the Fall and Winter colors and sounds make their way into your home this year, you may want to try a piece of beachside flan. It will bring you a couple steps closer to the beach, the ocean breeze, nice warm comfort, and why not, fresh coconut from those shady palm trees.

Serves 8-10

1 cup sugar
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups unsweetened dried and shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups
Optional garnishes, slices of fruits, or if you want to go wild, drizzle chocolate syrup or whipped cream on top

In a saucepan heat sugar over medium-low heat until it achieves caramel consistency. You may need to tilt the saucepan as the sugar starts to dissolve. Once it has melted, decide how dark/strong you want the caramel. The lighter the color, the lighter the flavor. But be careful because if it gets too dark it can burn and taste bitter. Remove from the heat and pour onto the bottom of a flan/round tube mold or into 10 individual custard cups. Do so quickly, since caramel hardens fast.

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.

Place sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup water, eggs and coconut in the blender and puree the mixture for 1 minute or so. Pour mixture on top of the hardened caramel in the mold or individual molds. Place the molds in an already hot water bath, a baking dish already filled with hot water which should come up to at least half the height of the molds, into the oven.

Remove once flan has set and top has achieved a nice golden to brown tan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let them cool and serve or cover and refrigerate. They will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

To unmold, remove them from the refrigerator at least 10 minutes before serving, so the caramel will soften. Run the tip of a knife around the flan and turn onto a plate. Drizzle the caramel on top. Serve it with fresh fruit of your liking, or go wild and add chocolate syrup or whipped cream on top.


Makes me want to jump into that plate. How many flans do you have there?

Juan | December 2, 2009 7:20 PM

There are 3 flans on that plate!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Juan | December 2, 2009 7:39 PM

Look nice.Are you try to substitud the cup of water with coconut milk? The flavor is so much better.

Migdalia | July 19, 2010 6:02 PM

Oh my gosh! It looks and sounds so good! I'm a big flan lover and I can't wait to try and cook this! I'm also going to try making your horchata. Your recipes are really good and I can't wait to try them out on my family. Thank you!

Aracely Cobos | July 9, 2011 4:54 PM

I am so excited to try this Flan........I saw your show for the first time and I love it! I am looking forward to more recipes.

Victoria | July 13, 2011 10:39 PM

I saw a flan you made on your show but could not find it on your web site. It had orange juice and almonds plus 10 eggs. Is it on line? Never made a flan but now I would like to try this one. Enjoyed your show.

Betty | July 21, 2011 7:35 PM

Hi Betty, Here is a link to the orange and almond flan. I hope you enjoy it!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Betty | July 22, 2011 10:53 AM

Hi Pati, i've enjoyed making the different items from the website that i've liked. I tried the flan 3 times and they all tasted ok but they have never come out with the exact consistency I see in the picture. i was wondering if maybe this was due to to much carmel in the cup or maybe the dishes were too big. My first batch was more solid but the bottoms were more brown. The second batch was light in color but the flan took on more of a custard texture not solid. the third i put less flan in the dishes and it seemed better. any help would be appreciated. What size dishes do you use? thanks.

ray | August 25, 2011 6:41 PM

Dear Pati,
On the coconut flan recipe , should it be cooked for longer if you make it in one large ring pan rather than individual portions?

I'd appreciate some advice on that point. Many thanks!

Angela | September 23, 2011 12:48 PM

Hi Angela,
Yes, if you do it in a large ring pan, give it another 5 to 10 minutes, if it is browning in the top, you can go ahead and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. The top should look golden brown and if you stick a wooden toothpick, it should come out barely moist, but not wet. My pleasure!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Angela | September 23, 2011 3:46 PM

I love your recipes. I saw you on The Chew fixing your chocoflan. I wondered how you made the cajeta.

Gail | May 15, 2012 5:42 PM

I'm Mexican - Flan is one of the Best Mexican Dessert I will eat a whole big one.

Maritza | November 10, 2012 7:50 PM

Hi, Pati I saw the but was at the end. I would like to have the chocoflan please :)

Reina | November 17, 2012 12:40 PM

Maritza, Thank you for your comment. It is making me laugh! I love flan, too, and there are so many different kinds to enjoy!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Maritza | November 21, 2012 10:45 AM

Hola Reina, Thank you for watching. Chocoflan recipe is here:

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Reina | November 21, 2012 4:54 PM

I made the coconut flan for Thanksgiving and it was delicious. One of my friends who is Mexican liked it as well. Yay!

Linda | December 10, 2012 7:17 PM

Thank you for letting me know, Linda. Sounds like a nice mix up from the usual Thanksgiving desserts!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Linda | December 12, 2012 5:50 PM