SALTED CARAMEL COCONUT FLAN – Caramel Flan de Leche de Coco y Sal

Salted Caramel Coconut Flan | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Here is my favourite Cuban recipe often bought from a street stall in a recycled cut-off beer can.

Salted Caramel Coconut Flan

Tia (Aunty) Irma wrote out this recipe in Spanish for me on a scrap of paper. With limited Spanish I managed to translate the recipe from her hand movements describing the process. The original recipe uses evaporated milk which I have replaced with coconut milk (leche de coco) which is not an unusual addition in Cuba where coconuts are abundant. However, I did reduce the sugar, the original recipe calls for 1 cup sugar plus extra for the caramel. I used muscovdo sugar as it has a lovely caramel flavour already and added a pinch of salt because there is just something so good about salted caramel.
Prep Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 400 ml can Tradeaid coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 free-range eggs

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven 180C. You will need 6 x 120ml ramekins or 2 stainless steel containers (approx. 12cm wide).
  • To make the caramel: Combine the sugar, salt and water in a small saucepan and heat over a low heat until a thick golden caramel. This will only take several minutes. Pour the caramel into the ramekins or containers and swirl to coat the sides - most of the caramel will settle on the bottom. Set aside to cool.
  • In a large jug whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and eggs until well combined. Once the caramel is cool pour the custard into the ramekins/ containers. Place the ramekins into a baking dish and fill with boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes (ramekins) or 50 minutes - 1hour for the larger containers. Check the custard is set with a toothpick, it should come out clean when pushed into the centre of the custard. Cool before serving. If using stainless steel containers you can run a sharp knife around the edge then invert onto a plate, then holding the plate and container tightly give a strong downward shake and the custard should slide out of the container onto the plate and all the delicious caramel will run down the sides.

Notes

A note on coconut milk: My first attempt of making this recipe the coconut milk I used had separated in the can resulting in a separated flan - not very nice. I recommend using either Tradeaid coconut milk as it has natural guar gum added to prevent separating, or Kara coconut milk found in tetrapaks.

Deciding what photos to share for my second installment of our visit to Havana, Cuba has not been easy. I have ended up with about twice the number of photos I planned but there are just so much amazing images to be found in this surreal city. My apologies for the long scroll to the recipe but really this is a place I can not rate high enough for places to visit.

HAVANA, CUBA

The cityscape of Havana City with the Caribbean lapping at its toes.

HAVANA, CUBA

An unused sport stadium.

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

We were welcomed with open arms by my Mum’s husband Solo and his family – his son Christian, his mother Dulce, and his two aunties, or ‘the aunties’ as they soon became known. Although ‘the aunties’ spoke no English, and sadly our Spanish is very limited, we still managed to communicate with gestures, nods and big white-toothed smiles. Although the variety of food is often limited in Cuba we were well looked after with amazing home-cooked Cuban food. These simple but flavoursome meals consisted of the staple rice and beans (arroz con gre), a soup or casserole of meat or fish, and a large platter of sliced avocados and tomatoes. I often joined the ‘the aunties’ in the kitchen, helping a little (they wouldn’t let me) but mainly taking notes of the dishes they prepared. This reinforced the belief I have that you don’t need to speak the same tongue to communicate the language of food.

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

Aunty Merera, my Mum, Solo & Mama Dulce

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

I would love to share some of the recipes I learned. However, they are so simple I feel the authenticity would be lost to write them down. Cubans have learned, maybe not by choice but by circumstance, to subsist on what they have at hand, and the food they eat reflects this. A fusion of Caribbean flavours mixed with Spanish, with a little Chinese and Russian thrown into the mix. My children never ate so well, and I don’t just mean in the sense of wholesome food, but more that they ate whatever was put in front of them. I don’t know whether it was the simple clean food, or the fact there just wasn’t any crackers or snack bars, even sliced bread was a rare purchase (I am not exaggerating here). We lived on plates full of rice and beans, scrambled eggs, creamy avocados, lamb caldosa (casserole), even fish head soup was scraped clean.

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

HAVANA, CUBA

Cuba for over 50 years has largely had to sustain it’s people off it’s own land. Until recently very little was imported, and Cuba is thriving. They have some of the best (free) education and healthcare in the world, and the streets are as clean as a whistle. Cubans dress immaculately even through they may only have several changes of clothes. They are proud people especially of their appearance. When you walk down a clean street alongside beautifully dressed and groomed people it is difficult to understand that Cubans are very poor. The average wage is $30CUC a month (approx. US$33) with a doctor making around $50CUC a month. Although there is poverty they look after each other, everyone is a cousin even if not by blood. Everything is reused, recycled and reused again. Nothing goes to waste (even the snout of a pig). I think we can look to Cuba for inspiration to live cleanly, reuse what we can. Grow as much food in our backyards as possible. Buy local and eat in season rather than relying on food miles to bring us our food. I am inspired and humbled by this trip.

Salted Caramel Coconut Flan | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Salted Caramel Coconut Flan | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

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Join the Conversation

  1. This is my favourite Cuban dessert! In the evening Solo will often disappear into the streets of Havana to return some time later with something sweet. Often he brings back is this delicious flan baked in a beer can cut in half – nothing is wasted!

    1. Hi Mum, yes these flans were our favourite sweet Cuban treat! Only Solo knew where to get the best ones 🙂

  2. Hi Nicola, it’s been so lovely to hear about your holiday and see your photos. Plus the recipes are wonderful too. I’ve been allocated the dessert to do for a special dinner with some foodie friends on Saturday night so will be making this. They have also been to Cuba so a nice connection there. Presume I should make on the day for best results? Thanks, Nicky

    1. Hi Nicky, yes make it on the day leaving enough time for it to cool before serving. Enjoy!

  3. Cuba is an amazing place, and I agree, such an inspiration…you are so lucky to have family there to give you an authentic experience of the culture! This dessert looks simple and delicious. Beautiful photos as always too 🙂

    1. Hi Sam, having Cubano familia definitely meant we got a real feel for the place and were well looked after. They love children so we had a lot of baby sitters too!

  4. Increeeedible pictures, Nicola! This was such an inspiring post to read, and this recipe seems about as authentic as it gets!

    1. Thanks Hannah, Cuba is a very photogenic country!

  5. All the pictures are absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing your experience about a piece of world most people are not sure what to think of.
    I failed at trying a custard last week, this is very likely going to be my next attempt! 🙂
    LOVE coconut milk!

  6. SO want to go to Cuba! Great photos…especially that one of the mural on the side of the building.

  7. Congrats on getting the Munch award for best kids food blog! You definitely deserve it 🙂

    1. Thanks Bonnie, I am stoked 🙂

    2. Thanks Bonnie 🙂

  8. Today is my birthday and I made this dessert for my family. It was amazing! Really easy to do and just as delicious as it looks and sounds. The individual custards flopped easily out of the ramekins. All of us really enjoyed it including the 7 and 9 year olds. I used the Trade aid coconut milk. Thanks.

    1. Fantastic Andrea! I always love to hear of success with my recipes. Aren’t they delicious 🙂

      1. My pleasure. BTW I used plain brown sugar and it worked beautifully. And I greased the ramekins with some butter – I’m not sure if it was needed or not.

        1. Brown sugar would work fine also – I should have made a note in the recipe about this 🙂 I didn’t grease my containers and the flan flopped out no problem but can’t hurt to grease them.

  9. Fantastic post Nicola – love the photos and shared moments from your trip Rx

    1. Thanks Rochelle x

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