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What is ChocoFlan?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Chocoflan is a Mexican dessert which combines flan and chocolate cake, smothered in caramel. It is also sometimes called pastel imposible, or “impossible cake.” This cake tends to be intensely sweet, with a very complex layered flavor which can be enhanced with a variety of garnishes. In Mexico, chocoflan is popular at parties, especially birthdays, and it is also served at some restaurants. Despite the “impossible cake” alias, chocoflan is very easy to make at home.

To make chocoflan, cooks pour a layer of chocolate cake batter into an oiled and floured pan, and then ladle in a layer of flan. The cake is baked in a hot water bath, gently unmolded, garnished, and then drizzled with caramel. Some cooks like to bake the caramel with the cake, lining the pan with caramel before pouring in the cake batter. Common garnishes include nuts or tropical fruit, although chocoflan can also be bedecked with chocolate shavings, whipped cream, coconut cream, and pretty much anything one might imagine.

The cake used in chocoflan should ideally be a moist recipe with an intense chocolate flavor. For a Central American touch, spices like cardamom and chilies can be added to the cake for a more interesting flavor. The flan section can be made by blending four eggs, one and three quarters cup sweetened condensed milk, one and one half cups evaporated milk, and one teaspoon of high-quality vanilla.

Chocoflan can be cooked in any number of cake pans. Square or rectangular pans work quite well, as do circular bundt pans. In any case, the hot water bath is extremely important, as it will keep the flan from cracking as it cooks. The cake should also be allowed to cool completely on a rack before unmolding, and it should be kept refrigerated. If fresh fruit is used as a garnish, many people like to wait to add the fruit until right before the cake is served, ensuring that the fruit will be crisp and fresh.

The blending of rich caramel, sweet vanilla, and dense chocolate in chocoflan is quite intense, so pieces generally do not need to be very large. Some people make this cake even richer by adding cream cheese to the chocolate cake mixture, or creating a cream cheese based flan, although these measures are certainly not necessary. When served with a cool cup of refreshing horchata, chocoflan is definitely something to write home about.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon999396 — On Dec 27, 2017

Everyone keeps saying this is very sweet but, you all know you can adjust how much sugar you use, right?

By aviva — On Jul 05, 2011

@Sierra02 - A bano de maria means bath or swim and is a cooking pot similar to a double boiler. I've made both lemon flan and coffee flan as well as the traditional caramel flan all without the use of an official bano de maria.

All you need is a roasting pan large enough to hold the custard mold and about two inches of water. For added support I always put my roasting pan on a large cookie sheet.

By Sierra02 — On Jul 05, 2011

My mother-in-law's housekeeper served a choco flan cake at her son's fifth birthday party. It was the first time I had ever had a flan cake and it was delicious.

She hasn't given me the recipe yet although she did promise me that she will. She even offered to let me use her bano de maria, the traditional Puerto Rican flan baking dish.

Of course if she forgets I can always search for a chocoflan video and teach myself. The only problem with doing that is that I won't have the pan to bake it in. Is there something else that can be used to bake the flan in?

By ddljohn — On Jul 04, 2011

The good part about chocoflan is that you can decide how thick the cake and flan layer is going to be. If you don't want an extremely chocolaty and sweet chocoflan, you can keep the cake layer very thin by using a small amount of cake mix or batter. You can make the flan layer very thick instead.

Or if you love chocolate and want something very sweet, keep the flan layer thin and the cake layer thick. I've even seen a chocoflan that had two layers of flan and one thin layer of cake in between. So it's really up to you to decide how it's going to be.

By serenesurface — On Jul 04, 2011

I guess making flan requires a different kind of talent. I'm so jealous of people who can make it at home! I tried once, and to say the least, the result was less than desirable.

But I am really lucky because there is a Mexican supermarket where I live that has a pastry section and they regularly make and sell chocoflan! Considering all of the ingredients you have to buy and the time it takes to prepare it, I think I'd rather buy it ready made. If you know of any bakeries that sell fresh chocoflan, don't miss out!

By burcinc — On Jul 03, 2011

If you've made flan at home before, you can definitely make chocoflan. The only difference is the chocolate batter which goes in right before the flan. Just make sure to pour the flan slowly on top of the batter to make sure that it doesn't mix together.

It is a very sweet dessert but very satisfying. I'd rather have a small slice of this than two slices of plain flan. Try decorating it with whipped cream and strawberries, it's delish!

By sunshine31 — On Jul 03, 2011

I have to say that the description of a choc flan sounds delicious. I love many variations of flan, but I have never had a chocolate version. I really like flan de coco which is a coconut flan as well as the flan de queso which is a cheese flan.

I will have to try this chocolate variation, but I have never seen it in any of the bakeries in my city. I will have to probably look up a recipe for choco flan to see if I can make it myself. I would rather find it in a bakery because flan is not easy to make at all.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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