Last week, I journeyed from my southern end of Metro Manila to the far north to share my vegan leche flan recipe on the Mars show on GMA News TV. While my spoken Tagalog was slightly atrocious, I believe the flans saved the day.
What makes this flan different from the other flans?
- It uses a blend of coconut milk and soy milk instead of dairy
- It uses a blend of gulaman and starch (corn, potato, or tapioca) instead of egg
- It uses either coconut sugar or raw sugar instead of white sugar
- It’s a no bake flan – no oven required! Just a stove.
I’ve been meaning to tinker around with the original recipe, streamline the cooking steps and decrease the cane sugar content. Prepping for this show gave me the perfect excuse to do so.
So without further ado, here is my super easy, no-bake leche flan. Dairy-free, egg-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, possibly refined-sugar free. Give it a try and if you make any improvements on it – post a comment below.
Original write-up on the leche flan in my Yummy magazine column, December 2012:
December is by far my favorite month of the year and it has everything to do how we Filipinos celebrate the holidays: the reunions, the get-togethers, the gift-giving, the glorious food!
One of the most ubiquitous Christmas foods that happens to be a personal favorite is leche flan. If you’re like me, you claim that your lola’s flan is by far the richest and that the recipe is a closely-guarded family secret. I fondly remember Christmas lunches at my grandparents’ house and ending the feast with spoonfuls of luscious, golden leche flan. Yes, my lola’s leche flan was the stuff of legend and unfortunately, the stuff our arteries and hearts did not enjoy.
Food is so much a part of social gatherings but we forget that it also plays an integral role in our health. Instead of making healthy food a remedy to our mistakes, let it become part of our daily routine and our festivities. This month, I invite you to be the change and celebrate healthy eating everyday. Here is my version of leche flan, still as creamy and flavorful as its infamous forefather without the cholesterol, white sugar, and excess fat. Try it out and don’t forget to eat to live – not the other way around. Happy Christmas!
Makes 2 llaneras (6 1/4-inch long) or 6, 1/2-cup servings
2 saucepans or 1 saucepan, 1 frying pan
Llaneras or flan molds
Microplane or small grater for lemon zest
Measuring cups (dry and liquid) and spoons
For the caramel:
1 cup coconut sugar or washed sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp calamansi or lemon juice
1. Prepare the flan molds – llaneras, ramekins, dessert bowls, etc. Because this flan is no-bake, you can use any heatproof food-grade dish. Place them on a wire rack or pot holder.
2. In a small saucepan or frying pan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook without stirring for 5 to 10, until the caramel reaches a deep amber color and the soft ball stage. To test, drop a bit of the mixture into a glass of cold water. If you can form a soft, flexible ball of caramel with your fingers, it’s ready.
3. Quickly pour a thin layer of caramel into the bottoms of the molds. Tilt each mold with a circular motion so the bottom is completely coated in caramel. Set aside and make the flan.
For the flan:
1 1/2 cups soy milk or other non dairy milk
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup coconut sugar or washed sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp unsweetened unflavored clear powdered gulaman (don’t use sweetened gulaman and don’t use the colored ones either – I can’t stress this enough!)
Zest of 2 lemons
4 tsp starch (corn, potato, or tapioca) mixed in 1/2 cup soy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tbsp flavorful rum
1. In a saucepan, add the1 1/2 cups soy milk, coconut milk, sugar, and water. Sprinkle in the gulaman and whisk quickly to dissolve. Add the lemon zest and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Lower the heat and whisk in the starch-soy milk mixture. Cook and stir constantly until the mixture has slightly thickened and cornstarch is completely cooked (it should be smooth, not chalky), about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
3. Pour the flan into the caramel-lined molds, leaving about ½-inch from the top of the molds. Let cool to room temperature; move to the refrigerator to completely firm up for a few hours and up to overnight.
4. To serve, gently run a knife along the sides of each flan. Invert the mold onto a serving plate; the flan should slide right off.