This vegan flan consists of delicious rich vanilla custard with a rich amber caramel layer at the bottom which is inverted before serving, allowing the caramel sauce to cascade down the sides of the custard.
This recipe is sponsored by Nature’s Charm. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who sponsor my work!
🍮 What Is Flan?
Flan is a sweet custard dessert that is incredibly popular around the world, unfortunately, it is usually not vegan. Almost always containing egg yolks or whole eggs, and some form of dairy including condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk, or cream cheese.
There are different versions of authentic flan across Latin America, Spain, other parts of Europe, and Asia.
Some examples include Vietnamese Banh Flan, Mexican Flan, Puerto Rican Flan de Queso, Filipino Leche Flan, Japanese Purin, and Spanish Flan (which I have seen a lot since moving to Spain - I have yet to spot a "flan vegano" though!).
My version of eggless flan is far from authentic, and not based on one particular type of flan but rather my best interpretation of a creamy rich caramel custard pudding!
I've taken inspiration from many different cultures and after many recipe tests, have found a combination of plant-based ingredients that give the perfect flavor and consistency to this classic favorite.
📖 Recipe Overview
- Perfect Consistency - It has the perfect amount of jiggle and the finished dessert has a lovely wobble which makes it not only delicious but fun to eat!
- Showstopper - Although pretty easy to make, flan is one of those desserts that looks so impressive.
- Great Make-Ahead Dessert - As cream cheese flan needs to be refrigerated for at least 12-24 hours in advance, it's perfect for dinner parties and special occasions where you don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen while you have guests.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Here's everything you need to make this vegan flan recipe from scratch:
- Evaporated Coconut Milk - Nature's Charm also does an evaporated oat milk if you don't like the taste of coconut.
- Vegan Condensed Milk - I use sweetened condensed coconut milk by Nature's Charm. Again if you limit the coconut flavor, their condensed oat milk also works perfectly.
- Vegan Butter - This is whisked into the custard after cooking, similar to pastry cream. It thickens, and adds richness and flavor, and also gives it a beautiful sheen.
🥣 How To Make Flan Vegan
Step 1: Cook the sugar and water over medium heat until it caramelizes and turns a reddish-amber color.
Step 2: Pour the caramel into the base of the flanera or cake pan and set aside to harden.
Step 3: Blend vegan cream cheese, evaporated milk, condensed milk, milk, vanilla, cornstarch, agar, and salt until smooth.
Step 4: Cook the custard over medium heat for around 5 minutes until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Step 5: Pass the custard through a fine-mesh sieve and whisk in the cold cubed butter until smooth. Cool at room temperature.
Step 6: Pour the custard on top of the set caramel and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
For this recipe, I used a fluted flanera. Although it looks incredibly beautiful, you can also make small individual flans using porcelain ramekins and these are less likely to show up any cracks or imperfections on the surface of the flan!
Likewise, you can use an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan without a removable base.
It sounds like your flan was not ready to de-mold! Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture. This is why the hardened caramel becomes a liquid caramel sauce during refrigeration, but it takes time.
No, I don't recommend you freeze it as that will ruin the structure of the dessert. Instead, I recommend adjusting the ingredient quantities to make a smaller flan (you can use half the ingredients for a 6-inch cake pan).
🌎 More International Desserts
- 100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) water
- 360 ml (1 ½ cups) evaporated coconut milk, I use Nature's Charm *see note 1
- 250 g (¾ cup + 1 tsp) sweetened condensed coconut milk, I use Nature's Charm *see note 2
- 200 ml (¾ cup + 4 tsp) non-dairy milk, oat milk, almond milk, or soy milk
- 200 g (7 oz) vegan cream cheese
- 40 g (5 tbsp) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons agar-agar powder, NOT agar flakes
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 60 g (7 ½ tbsp) vegan butter, cold and cubed, *see note 3
- Place a 21cm/8-inch flanera or similar-sized cake pan on a tray and set aside. If using a cake pan, make sure that it does NOT have a removable base.
- Caramel: Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and place it over low heat. Stir the mixture with a spoon for several minutes until all of the sugar has dissolved.Turn up the heat to medium-high and DO NOT TOUCH OR STIR IT from this point on. Keep a very close eye on the saucepan, the mixture will start to boil and bubble. After several minutes it will start to turn a light caramel color in places. Very gently swirl the pan so that it caramelizes evenly. Once the caramel turns a deep amber color, remove it from the heat.
- Pour the caramel into the flanera or cake pan, working quickly as it will set very fast. Allow the caramel to come to room temperature and harden (about 30 minutes).
- Custard: Add the evaporated coconut milk, condensed coconut milk, non-dairy milk, cream cheese, cornstarch, agar-agar, vanilla, and salt to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the custard mixture into a saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, while continuously whisking. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, the custard will start to thicken. Make sure you are constantly stirring the custard to avoid it burning to the bottom of the pan. I recommend alternating between a whisk and a rubber spatula. Remove from the heat.
- Place the cubed butter into a large mixing bowl and sit a fine-mesh sieve on top of the bowl. Pass the custard through the sieve into the bowl with the butter and whisk the butter through until smooth and creamy. Allow it to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes. Every 5 minutes, whisk the custard to prevent a skin from forming on top of it.
- Pour the custard on top of the set caramel and smooth out the top using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Let it continue to cool to room temperature, then cover with clingfilm before placing them in the fridge. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- Serving: Just before serving, *very carefully* run a sharp knife about 1 inch deep around the inner edge of the pan to loosen the custard. Be careful not to go deeper as this can ruin the smooth appearance of the flan.
- Place a large serving plate on top of the pan and quickly turn it over. Very slowly start to lift the pan. The custard will unmold itself and the caramel sauce will pour down the sides of the flan.
- Storage: This flan is best served within the first 1-2 days once it has set. Do not remove it from the mold until just before serving. I recommend making it one day ahead of serving.
- Evaporated Coconut Milk: Use evaporated oat milk if preferred.
- Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk: Use sweetened condensed oat milk if preferred.
- Vegan Butter: Use vegan block-style butter, not spreadable margarine from a tub.
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