Flan is a creamy, soft custard baked on top of a layer of sugar syrup that has been cooked to the caramel stage. It is baked in a water bath and when served, the custard is turned out of the ramekin onto a plate and the caramel becomes the topping.
There is not an ounce of cream cheese in an authentic Flan recipe, nor would any self-respecting Mexican cook use a jar of cajeta (pronounced kah-Heh-tah) or Smuckers Caramel in which to bake her authentic Flan, but for the purposes of this recipe I will call it Flan and I will also use cajeta.
Now that we know what this recipe isn't, let's begin with what it is: A thick-ish layer of caramel poured into the bottom of a bundt pan, over which is poured a prepared chocolate fudge cake and then a blender-ful of three milks, eggs, cream cheese and vanilla is poured into the cake mix, then it's baked in a water bath for two hours. The cake rises through the flan to become the base of the cake and when the cake is done it is inverted onto a serving plate with the caramel bathing the flan and the cake.
It's simple to make. It's impressive to serve. It's rich, creamy, velvety, chocolatey and caramely, and once your guests starting eating the cake, your dining room will be silent save for an occasional mmmmmmmm, ooohhhhhhh and aaahhhhh.
This is, without a doubt, the cake most requested by my dinner guests and the tendency for the flan to crack has never dissuaded anyone from eating their portion.
There are a couple of things you should know before you begin.
First, be sure your bundt pan will comfortably hold 12 cups. This cake will ultimately almost fill the entire pan.
Second, before measuring the Cajeta, spray the inside of your measuring cup with cooking spray. It will release the Cajeta easier. Also, although many recipes list Smuckers Caramel Sauce as a substitute, I have always used Cajeta.
Third, your serving plate must have a slight rim or you will have caramel spilling off the plate all over your counter. You don't want to waste an ounce of that caramel.
Chocolate Flan Cake
- 1 box chocolate fudge cake mix (I use Duncan Hines), plus the ingredients to prepare the cake mix according to package directions
- 1-1/3 cups Cajeta or Smuckers Caramel
- 1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 - 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 - 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 5 eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Spray a 12-cup bundt pan generously with cooking spray and pour the caramel topping evenly into the bottom of the pan.
Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions and pour the batter into the pan on top of the caramel.
To make the flan, pour the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk into a blender and add the cream cheese, vanilla and eggs. Blend until smooth, being careful to start the blender at a slower speed and gradually increase it as your blender will be pretty full. Pour the flan mixture slowly over the cake batter.
Spray the underside of a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray, cover the pan and seal tightly around the edges and center with your fingers.
Set the bundt pan into a large pan (like a lasagna pan) and put in the oven. Pour hot water into the larger pan so that the bundt pan is sitting in about 2-inches of water.
Bake for two hours. Carefully remove the cake pan from the water bath to a rack and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Peel off the aluminum foil.
Invert the cake on to a large plate. The caramel will flow down the sides of the flan cake. Cool, then refrigerate.