I’ve always wanted to make flan. I’ve also always wanted to be a magician, so naturally, when I saw this recipe for Magic Chocolate Flan Cake from Cook’s Country magazine it was a no-brainier. This cake is pretty unique in that the layer of flan, and the layer of chocolate cake switch places during the baking process without ever mixing. And if that doesn’t impress you, the taste will. This magical dessert is made up of a brownie-like chocolate cake, sweet caramel, and a rich, creamy flan. It’s delicious. Unless, of course, you don’t like flan. Then there’s nothing to see here.
If you’re still with me, I’m about to break your heart a little. Here goes. There is no magic in this recipe. It’s pure science. You see, the baking soda and buttermilk in the chocolate cake produce a gas which lightens the cake layer. The flan mixture is dense. Therefore, as this dessert bakes in the oven the cake batter rises from the bottom (thanks to the gas) and the flan mixture falls from the top. Okay, so why don’t they mix when they travel through each other? Well, as the flan heats up, the eggs in the flan start to solidify. The solidifying eggs cannot fuse with the still-wet cake batter. It’s only after the cake has fully risen to the top that it is exposed to more heat and therefore is able to fully set.
The preparation time for this cake is very quick, however, after it has baked the flan needs at least 8 hours to chill in the refrigerator. Therefore, this is more like a two-day dessert. I chose to make this recipe because I wanted to work on baked custards, like flan. A baked custard is one that sets in the oven rather than on the stove top (stirred custard).
Here’s how it’s done. First you grease a Bundt pan, and then pour about 1/2 cups worth of caramel sauce arond the bottom. I made my own caramel sauce. You can find the recipe here. However, store-bought caramel sauce will work just as well.
Spread the fudgey cake batter over the caramel sauce.
Then pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. You see that? So, right now the layers are caramel sauce, chocolate cake, and flan. Okay, now here comes the magic.
Bake in a water bath for about 1 and 1/4 hours or until the flan reaches a temperature of 180 degrees.
After it has cooled on a wire rack for 2 hours, and chilled in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and then the bottom has been heated in hot tap water for 1 minute, carefully flip it over onto a large plate or platter.
See?! Now the chocolate cake is on the bottom, the flan is in the middle and the caramel sauce is… exactly where it was left it before baking. Still, the flan and chocolate cake switch-a-roo is pretty cool.
- 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce (for the topping)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS (93 g) All-Purpose Flour
- 1/3 cup (28 g) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 4 oz. (113 g) Bittersweet Chocolate
- 6 TBS (84 g) Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 cup Buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (99 g) Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 (14 oz.) cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 1/2 cups Whole Milk
- 6 oz. (170 g) Cream Cheese
- 6 Large Eggs plus 4 Large Yolks
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan.
- Pour caramel sauce all around bottom of pan. If not easily pourable, microwave the sauce for about 20 to 30 seconds.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter until melted, about 2 minutes. Stir together.
- In a third bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Pour buttermilk mixture into the chocolate mixture and combine. Finally, mix in the flour mixture.
- Pour batter over caramel in the prepared Bundt pan.
- Put all of the flan ingredients in a blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in two parts.
- Gently pour the flan mixture over the chocolate cake batter. Carefully place the full Bundt pan in a large roasting pan, and then carry that into the oven. Fill the roasting pan with water so that the water level comes half way up the sides of the Bundt pan.
- Bake the magic cake until a toothpick inserted into the chocolate cake comes out clean and the flan reaches 180 degrees F. (1 and 1/4 hours to 1 and 1/2 hours).
- Place Bundt pan on wire rack to cool, about 2 hours, and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Remove roasting pan from oven once water has cooled.
- Once the cake has chilled, place the bottom third of the pan in hot tap water for 1 minute. This will help loosen the cake from the Bundt pan. Afterwards, invert the pan over a platter, and carefully turn the patter and pan upside down. Slowly remove the pan, allowing caramel to drizzle over top of cake.
- 12-cup Bundt pan
- Roasting pan
- Cooking thermometer
- Wire rack
- Large platter