Cook the caramel topping: Using a medium sized heavy stock pot. Add the sugar to the stockpot. Place the pot over medium heat. Keep a close watch over the sugar. It will take about 5 minutes for the sugar to start to bubble at the edges, gradually turning amber colored all over. Tilt the pan around to level off the caramel syrup. Work quickly and pour the caramel syrup in a prepared loaf pan measuring 9 x 5 inches (or use a round 9-inch in diameter cake pan). Let the caramel in the loaf pan cool down while you prepare the custard.
To make the custard: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks for one minute. Then add the condensed milk, the coconut milk and the vanilla extract. Mix and blend well with a wire whisk or a large wooden spoon. Do not over mix or bubbles will form and that affects the smooth texture of the flan after it is cooked.
Using a sieve or strainer, pour the custard mixture into the loaf pan lined with caramel. It is important to use a sieve so you have a smooth textured flan. Cover the entire pan with foil and seal the edges all around.
In a preheated oven of 325 F degrees, place a large deep baking pan (larger than the loaf pan). Add enough water to fill up the large baking pan halfway full. Place the foil covered loaf pan with the custard and caramel in the center of the larger baking pan. This is called a water bath or ‘bain marie’ or else ‘bano maria’ way of cooking. This method is preferred if cooking with a caramel topping and a custard like this one.
Bake in the 325 F degree oven for 55 minutes. Test the custard if it is done by inserting a thin knife in the center. If knife comes clean, it is done.
Remove the flan from the oven and cool on the counter for an hour. Then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
To serve : Run a sharp knife around the sides of the flan to loosen up. Prepare a large rectangle sized platter (larger than the flan) and put it over the flan container. Hold the bottom of the flan container firmly with one hand. Hold the bottom of the platter well with the other hand. Turn over the flan on the platter. The syrup will run and flow around the custard. Slice in thin slivers to serve (each thin slice is packed with thousands of rich calories, so go easy).
Prepare the pineapple topping: in a small skillet add two tablespoons of the leftover caramel that falls on the side of the flan after it has been turned. Over medium heat, brown the pineapple cubes in the caramel syrup for about two minutes. Then place the pineapple cubes on the top of the Pina Colada flan just before serving.
Serving suggestions: slice some Pina Colada flan and add it as a topping to a few scoops of vanilla ice cream.
COOK'S COMMENTS: As an alternative cooking method, you can steam the foil-covered flan on a steamer over medium heat and boiling water for 55 minutes.
Storage: Keep this Pina Colada flan refrigerated at all times till ready to serve.
Photography credits: Thanks to Cristina Newhard for the coconut photos taken at Purple Yam NYC in Brooklyn, NY.
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