Are you a fan of Filipino leche flan? When I was little, a family friend, sweet Mrs. Bautista, would occasionally give my mom a pan of homemade leche flan. It was so delicious that it remains one of many food-related highlights from my childhood! I grew up with Japanese custard pudding (purin), but the Filipino version is much richer.
While I was pregnant, I went to a food festival and found leche flan at the Filipino booth! Not having had any since I was in school, I bought the biggest size flan they had, only to find out they were nowhere near as delicious as Mrs. Bautista's flan! Bummer, considering any festival food tends to be overpriced.
Well, I connected with Mrs. Bautista on Facebook and practically begged her for her recipe! Can you tell how obsessed I am with her flan?
Don't worry, you'll be obsessed once you eat it too!
How to make dairy-free leche flan
Leche flan, also known as crème caramel, is made using condensed milk and evaporated milk. My sensitivity to dairy is why it took me this long to make this dessert!
Recently, I came across Nature's Charm, a brand that makes sweetened condensed coconut milk and evaporated coconut milk. I immediately ordered a can of each, knowing I wanted to make the flan of my childhood!
If you're in the market for dairy free condensed milk or evaporated milk, you have to try these out! Not only are they delicious (I could have stuck a straw in the can and drank it straight) but customer service was amazing!
Not sponsored, just really love their brand and will definitely be ordering through them again!
Using Mrs. Bautista's recipe, I slightly lessened the sugar for the caramel, swapped out regular condensed and evaporated milk for yummy coconut versions, and used half a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. I mean, we're going all out here so I had to whip out the bean!
Tips for a smooth flan
1. Stir gently! I got a little overexcited when beating the custard, so I ended up with air bubbles. Oops! It was still very delicious, but to get a beautiful, bubble-less flan, stir gently and make sure you don't foam up the egg.
2. Run the custard through a mesh sieve. When you pour the custard over the caramel, pour it through a mesh sieve. This helps get out any lumps you may have, and even some of the air bubbles!
3. Bake it in a water bath. Traditionally, leche flan is steamed. My steamer is too small to fit my baking pan so I resorted to baking it in the oven using a water bath. A water bath evenly distributes the heat, so you're less likely to overbake the flan!
4. Chill the flan well! I only chilled my flan for about an hour, because patience is not one of my virtues when it comes to food. I didn't photograph it but I had a crack and a small piece on the side fell off. So be patient, and chill it for at least a couple hours!
This Filipino dessert is so creamy and rich! And because it's dairy-free and gluten-free, it's rich but doesn't sit heavy in your stomach. It's definitely a sweet treat, and while both Tristan and I prefer our desserts to be not too sweet, our spoons wouldn't stop scooping!
I did manage to scoop out a portion for my mom, to remind her of the good old days!
Have you tried using condensed coconut milk in your baking? Let me know in the comments what you've made, and make sure to save this recipe on Pinterest!
Not a fan of flan? Try my no bake blueberry cheesecake bites instead!
Dairy-free Leche Flan
- 1 8-inch round pan
- Preheat the oven to 338°F/170°C. Bring a pot of water to a boil, turn off the heat and keep covered.
- In a small pan, combine the sugar and water and heat until golden brown and thick. Keeping a close watch, occasionally swirl the pan to make sure the caramel cooks evenly. Pour the caramel into an 8 inch round baking pan and tilt the pan to coat the bottom (the pan gets hot so be careful!). Place the round baking pan into a bigger baking pan (I used a 9 inch square pan) and set aside.
- While the caramel is cooking, make the custard. In a bowl, add eggs, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and the seeds scraped out of the vanilla bean. Gently whisk together until smooth, making sure not to create a foam. Set aside to rest while the caramel cools in the pan.
- Pour the custard through a mesh sieve over the cooled caramel. Cover the round pan with foil. Carefully pour the hot water into the bigger baking pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the round pan. Bake it in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the flan completely, and chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours. Run a knife around the edge of the flan to loosen it before inverting it onto a serving plate.