Coconut Flan

Serves 8

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 (13 1/2-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (preferably Mexican)
  • 2 or 3 passion fruits for garnish

For the caramel: Set eight 3/4-cup molds (custard cups, coffee cups, or individual souffle dishes) in a roasting pan that's at least 2 inches deep and large enough to space the molds at least 1/2 inch apart. In a microwave-safe container (a 1-quart glass measuring pitcher works well), stir together the sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, and water. Microwave on full power until the mixture is light brown, 4 to 5 minutes (the timing will depend on the power of your microwave). Remove from the microwave and let the sugar syrup sit for 4 minutes to finish cooking and to darken to a deep caramel color. Immediately pour the caramel into the molds, dividing it evenly and tilting each mold so the caramel completely covers the bottom. Leave the molds in the roasting pan.

To make the custard: Preheat the oven to 325- degrees. Bring a tea kettle filled with water to a simmer. In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the sugar, whole milk, and coconut milk, set over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until thoroughly blended. When the milk mixture is at a simmer, remove from the heat and slowly add to the eggs while whisking constantly. Stir in the vanilla and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher or bowl. Pour or ladle the custard into the molds, dividing it evenly.

To bake the flans: Open the oven door and pull out the center oven rack most of the way, but not so far that it will tip when the pan is set on it. Set the pan holding the molds on the rack, then slowly pour the simmering water into the pan to reach two thirds of the way up the sides of the molds. Slowly slide the rack into the oven, and close the oven door. Bake until the flans are set in the middle, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the water bath, about 1 hour. Then remove from the water bath and refrigerate the flans until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours.

To unmold and serve the flans: Run a small knife around the inside edge of a mold to release the flan from the sides of the mold. Invert a small serving plate over the mold, grasp the plate and mold firmly, and reverse the two together. Shake the flan up and down, back and forth until you hear it drop onto the plate. Lift off the mold and scrape any remaining caramel out of the mold and onto the flan. Repeat with the remaining flans.

Cut open the passion fruits and scoop out the seeds and juice. Spoon them around each flan. Dessert's ready.

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