In all my years of baking treats for family, never, I repeat never, have I ever had a reaction as glorious and overwhelmingly ecstatic as when I made this Chocolate Flan Cake over the holidays. I mean, it bordered on the ridiculous (read: my dad, brother-in-law and husband literally arm wrestling for the last piece – there may or may not have been subterfuge involved as each tried to hide the others dessert in order to enjoy it for himself). Even the kids, while devouring their own pieces with protective hands, were looking at these grown men as if they had grown horns and green fuzz.
I can’t blame the guys, really. This cake is terribly outstanding. And talk about gorgeous – it is elegant and eye catching to say the least (although you can bet the men in the house could have cared less how it looked, as evidenced when they each scrambled to claim the piece that fell off the serving spatula into a messy heap on the counter).
My friend Angela converted me to flan right before we moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota. My experience with flan hasn’t been great in the past. I don’t love the texture or extreme egginess of true vanilla flan. But cream cheese flan? Yeah, I’m all over that. The flan layer of this cake incorporates a bit of cream cheese which makes all the difference between “ew” and “love” in my book. Creamy, silky, smooth and drizzled with caramel – flan is my new BFF, especially when it rests on a bed of rich, moist chocolate cake. Honestly, this cake is unreal in it’s deliciousness.
If you aren’t convinced already, here are a few other reasons why this cake should be made as immediately as possible:
a) You can claim it as a science experiment for the kids, if you have them (or for yourself if you don’t) – the chocolate cake batter goes into the pan first and the milky flan mixture is poured over the top but as it bakes (get ready for this), the layers swap places and the cake ends up on top while the flan settles to the bottom. I know, get out, right? It has something to do with gas and physics and chemistry and magic and maybe baking soda. I’m not sure.
b) While it looks absolutely stunning, this cake is beyond simple to make. The flan ingredients all get thrown in the blender, for goodness sake, and the chocolate cake is easy as can be.
c) You can make it up to a day in advance and if that’s not a majorly redeeming factor, I don’t know what is.
d) One taste and you’ll wonder where Chocolate Flan Cake has been all your life.
This cake will make your life better. Promise. I can’t guarantee it won’t strain inter-family relationships while fighting over slices but you’ll have to figure out a way around that (there is a high possibility your family is more mature than mine which means you won’t have any fighting-over-flan issues at all).
Note: Plan ahead because the cake needs to chill for at least 8 hours before it can be turned out of the cake pan (perfect for making a day in advance!). Take note, also, that the cake needs to be baked in a water bath so you'll need a large roasting pan of sorts - I just used a disposable aluminum roasting pan. Also, a 12-cup bundt pan is called for in the recipe; however, when I made it at my mom's house she only had a 9-10 cup bundt pan (which I didn't realize until I had already poured in the chocolate batter). I simply added the flan on top until it was about 1/2-inch from the top and discarded the rest of the flan mixture. It probably made for a slightly less thick flan layer but we absolutely loved it anyway.
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce or topping (store bought or homemade)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (1 ounce) cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 6 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup nonstick bundt pan, taking care to get in all the nooks and crannies. Pour the caramel sauce into the bottom of the pan (the caramel sauce, if storebought and thick, may need a quick warmup in the microwave to be pourable).
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and microwave at 50% power for 1-minute increments, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and smooth, about 2-4 minutes. Whisk the buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla into the melted chocolate mixture until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour the chocolate batter evenly over the caramel.
- Add all the flan ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Slowly and carefully pour the flan mixture over the the cake batter. Place the filled cake pan in a large roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour warm water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the bundt pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick comes out clean and the flan registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 75 to 90 minutes (mine took the longer amount of time). Remove the Bundt pan from the roasting pan (the easiest way for cleanup is to leave the roasting pan and water in the oven until it has cooled) and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for 8 hours (or up to 12).
- To remove the cake from the pan, fill a large bowl with hot water and place the bottom third of the Bundt pan in the water for 1 minute. Carefully invert the cake onto a flat plate or cake platter - I do this by putting the cake platter or plate over the Bundt pan opening and then, holding onto the edges of both platter and cake pan, I gently turn the pan upside down while flipping the cake platter. Slowly remove the pan letting the caramel drizzle over the top of the cake. Serve chilled.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook’s Country Dec/Jan 2013