Tester Note: I’ve reduced the amount of agar and increased the coconut milk and tapioca in the recipe now, please follow this going forward.
Coconut Lime Flan
Serves 6 to 8
A large, lovely flan with tropical flavor that’s a fitting dessert to a whole slew of ethnic cuisines: Latin American, Caribbean, South East Asian and even African. The pandan flan option is especially exciting after a Thai, Sri Lankan or Vietnamese feast. Creamy, springy flan dressed in a light caramel sauce is a dessert that crosses boarders and tummies with the greatest of ease.
Individual flans can be made using small 1 cup bowls or ramekins, but there’s something extra exciting about about slicing up one huge pie plate of flan; a glass 10 inch deep dish pie plate is the perfect vessel. Use a cake server spatula to lift up delicate wedges of flan.
Microwave Caramel Coating:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups vanilla almond milk or coconut-based beverage
3/4 teaspoon agar powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups canned coconut milk, regular or reduced fat
3 tablespoons tapioca flour or cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons lime juice
Finely grated zest from 1 lime
1. Make the the caramel first: Have ready one deep dish 10 inch glass or ceramic pie dish, or six 1 cup individual serving ramekins. Pour the sugar into a microwave-safe glass measuring cup add the sugar and add the water; don’t stir. Set the microwave on High power for 4 1/2 minutes and microwave the sugar.
2. Watch the melting sugar in the microwave very carefully around 3:50 minutes; it will be bubbling rapidly and begin to turn from a colorless liquid to a pale golden shade. Keep watching the caramel; at this point on it will begin to darken very rapidly and within seconds it could burn, so don’t walk away from the microwave. Put an oven mitt on and be ready to pull out the measuring cup. When the caramel has reached a dark amber color (a little lighter than dark agave), immediately stop the microwave cooking and remove the hot measuring cup with your oven-mitted hand. Immediately pour the caramel into the pie plate, tilt the pan slightly so that the caramel run about 1/2 inch up the sides, then set the pan aside. As the caramel cools you may hear it cracking; in the case of our flan it doesn’t matter if the caramel cracks since it will eventually become sauce for the flan.
3. Make the flan: in a large saucepan combine the almond milk and agar powder over high heat and bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes; reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the sugar. In a small bowl whisk together the coconut milk and tapioca flour or cornstarch. Use a wire whisk to stir this into the simmering soy milk mixture; continue to whisk until the mixture thickens slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Immediately pour the hot mixture into the caramel-lined pie plate; if using individual ramekins, divide equally among the ramekind. Let cool for 10 minutes on the kitchen countertop, cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely for 2 hours or overnight.
4. To serve the flan, gently run a butter knife along the sides of the flan (or individual flans) a few times. To invert flan onto a serving plate, give it couple sharp taps and it should slide onto the plate; for best results use a large serving plate with a raised edge to hold in the caramel sauce. Most of the caramel will have dissolved to form syrupy sauce coating the top of the custard. If your flan still refuses to be evicted from the pan, set the bottom of the pan into a shallow bowl of hot water and after about a minute or two so try again. Some of the caramel will remain in the molds; to remove caramel, just fill molds with warm water and let sit for a few hours to dissolve the sugar. Serve flan within two to three days of preparing.
Add 2 four inch pieces of frozen pandan leaf to soy milk mixture as it simmers, or add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of pandan extract along with the other flavor extracts. Remove pandan leaves before pouring into the caramel-lined pie plate.