Chocoflan has become one of my favorite desserts to eat AND make since discovering it last fall. After I had my first bite, I had one of those WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!? moments. Because who wouldn't love chocolate cake AND flan in the same bite? Crazy people, that's who. There is also magic involved with making this cake, y'all. Magic. This cake is also known as impossible cake because of the fancy flipping that happens during baking. More on that below.
I brought this cake to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday, and it was a hit. Creamy custard mixed with chocolatey goodness will always win. I've made this successfully in mini Bundt pans which are great little packages for gift giving.
Chocoflan (adapted from Rick Bayless)
Aka Impossible Cake
Makes about 16 servings
For the cake pan
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c caramel (store-bought squeezable caramel topping)*
10 Tbsp (5 oz) butter, slightly softened
1 c (200g) sugar
2 tablespoons espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water OR 3 tablespoons espresso or coffee**
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 c plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
9 oz buttermilk
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
* I have tried a few different caramels, and the one that works best for me is Smuckers Caramel Syrup in a squeezable bottle. Store bought canned dulce de leche has not worked well for me because it's hard to spread. Some day I'll try making homemade cajeta (mexican caramel sauce), but for now I use this cheat.
What to do
1. Prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a bundt, tube, or cake pan by brushing the interior of the pan generously with melted butter. Put the caramel in the bottom of the pan and coat the bottom generously. Set a kettle of water over medium-low heat. Set out a deep pan that's larger than your cake pan (a roasting pan works well) that can serve as a water bath during baking.
2. Make the cake: With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light in color and texture. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the egg and espresso/coffee. Sift together the all-purpose and cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. Beat in about 1/2 of the flour mixture, at medium-low speed, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat adding the remaining flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk. Scrape the bowl, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute.
3. Make the flan. In a blender, combine the two milks, the eggs and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
4. Layer and bake. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and spread level. Slowly, pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Place the larger pan in the oven, then place the cake pan into the larger pan. Pour hot water around the cake to a depth of 1 inch. Carefully slide the pans into the oven, and bake about 50 to 55 minutes, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, except for the very center. Remove from the water bath and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
5. Remove from pan. Carefully run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to free the edges. Invert a rimmed serving platter over the cake pan, grasp the two tightly together, then flip the two over. Gently jiggle the pan back and forth several times to insure that the cake/flan has dropped, then remove the pan. Scrape any remaining caramel from the mold onto the cake. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Voilà! So, the flan sank to the bottom of the pan while baking, then when you invert the plan, it's magically on the top! The magic is related to the different densities of the flan and cake batter, but don't ask me about details. I just eat the damn thing and am thankful someone thought it up.