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Mauritian coconut flan

This is not a dish I would normally have thought of making, but a lovely friend invited us over for a Mauritian dinner to showcase some of her family dishes, and I offered to bring dessert. I investigated a few options, and this seemed to be one of the classics. I’ve made Crème caramel before, but have to say the combination of the coconut, rum and condensed milk in this flan is really wonderful – it would make a fabulous tropical egg nog actually!

If you haven’t made either flan or Crème caramel before, it has two parts: a baked custard, and a layer of caramelised sugar that melts to form a caramel sauce over the top of the turned out custard. The custard part is straight forward, but you have to be a little careful with the caramel.

Apart from the usual cautions about keeping small children away from molten sugar, the key thing to be aware of is that the sugar sometimes crystallises rather than melting. This isn’t a disaster, just add a little water and redissolve it before raising the heat again to caramelise the sugar. Once the sugar starts changing colour, watch it very closely, as it can quickly go from golden brown to burnt. You can see above I removed from the heat when it was golden brown, but it was amber by the time it was swirled around the pan due to residual heat.

turn out flan - note the caramel still stuck in the dish

You can also make this flan with part coconut milk, substituting for perhaps 125ml of the full cream milk, or scatter coconut over the caramel before adding the custard if you want to add extra coconut flavour and texture.

Mauritian coconut flan

While I initially made this as part of a Mauritian meal, it’s a lovely make ahead chilled dessert that would beautifully finish off most meals in the warmer months. Have you ever made Crème caramel or one of its variations?

Mauritian coconut flan

  • 175g white sugar for caramel
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • half a tin condensed milk
  • 25g shredded coconut
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbs rum
  • additional freshly grated or toasted flaked coconut to decorate

Add 175g sugar and 60ml water to a medium saucepan and heat slowly until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium, and continue cooking until it is a golden brown colour. Quickly remove from heat and pour caramel into a round overproof dish (approximately 20cm) and swirl to cover the bottom and partly up the sides of the dish.

Combine other ingredients (except additional coconut) in a blender and blitz to combine. Pour blended mixture over the cooled caramel, cover with foil or a lid, and cook at 150C in a bain marie for 50-60 min, until just set but with a wobble in the centre. Cool on a rack till lukewarm, then chill for at least two hours (preferably overnight to ensure the caramel is melted).

Turn out by running a knife around the edge of the dish, and then put a plate over the dish and flip upside-down, being careful not to lose the caramel sauce. Serve with tropical fruit such as papaya/mango/passionfruit on the side. If any solid bits of caramel remain in the dish, just scrape them out and arrange on top of the flan (as above). Top with freshly grated or toasted flaked coconut.