The best recipes are the ones that have been around forever...handed down from generation to generation...this is one of those recipes. Several weeks ago I had Food Network on while I was cleaning my bedroom...as I walked in and out of the room, returning books to their shelves, taking sheets to the laundry room, dishes to the kitchen...yes, we're THOSE kind of people...I happened to hear a few words that caught my attention: "Mexico's most famous dessert..." Really? More famous than say Sopapita's? Fried Ice Cream? (These are the ONLY two Mexican desserts I've ever had.) I might have been tempted right then and there to forget about the vacuuming and run to the kitchen to make this cake but then I remembered the last time I had flan...my SIL was going to make it for me - said she had a great recipe and that I would love it...and I might have except that she cooked it in a convection oven WITHOUT the fan on...it was quite pitiful. The pic on the left is the end result. Failed Flan still in my brain.
As I continued cleaning, the host of Mexican Made Easy, Marcella, continued talking about this cake...when I heard her say it was her family's favorite and had been for at least 100 years I was sold! Handed down through the generations and made for every Christmas...any dessert that lasts a hundred years has to be something special.
Think of the nerve it must take to tinker with a hundred year old recipe...but I worked myself up and tinkered away...just a tad. The chocolate cake was good
but only had a mild chocolate flavor, so I added espresso powder which
really bumped it up and I used Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, which also added more flavor. The cake will have a moist, dense crumb and the flan is creamy and rich - they compliment each other perfectly! Cinco Dangs mi amigos!
Choco-Flan Cake ~ Adapted from Marcella Valladolid/Mexican Made Easy
To make this recipe you will need a 12-cup capacity Bundt pan. Coat the pan with softened butter.
For the Cake:
1/4 cup Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce) or any other caramel sauce, homemade or store bought
10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
For the Flan:
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Cajeta or caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat a Bundt pan all over with butter. Pour 1/4 of cajeta sauce or other caramel sauce in the bottom of the Bundt pan. Place the Bundt pan in a large roasting pan. (The roasting pan will serve as a water bath during baking.)
For the cake: In the bowl of an electric mix add the butter and sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa; mixing well with a whisk. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in the batter, beginning and ending with flour. Mix only until incorporated.
For the flan: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.
Scoop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan (over the cajeta/caramel sauce) and spread evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. (The flan will end up on the bottom of the pan so when it is inverted it will be on the top!) Cover with foil and add enough water to the roasting pan to come up a little less than half way on the Bundt pan.
Carefully slide the pan into the oven, and bake 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Depending on your oven you may need to bake the cake for an hour and ten minutes. When cake is done, remove from the water bath and cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour. It is important that the cake be cooled before being removed and inverted from the pan.
Using a knife, carefully go around edges of the cake/pan to loosen, especially around the center. Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together, jiggle a little and flip over. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining sauce/flan from the pan onto the cake, garnish with more cajeta/caramel sauce and chopped pecans.
Cook's Notes: The first time I made this cake I had to cook it a bit longer than the recipe called for. The second time I made it it cooked for 65 minutes. So start checking the cake after an hour. Traditionally, this cake is chilled 24 hours before serving but it's also very good served warm.
Flan is a rich, creamy, cooked egg custard. It is often flavored with vanilla and baked in a water bath to retain its delicacy.
Cajeta is a thick and creamy spread or paste made with caramelized sugar and milk. It is used as a desert on its own or as a topping. Also known as "dolce de leche," it is sold in many supermarkets, Latin specialty markets or online. It can be substituted with a thick caramel sauce.