Lus’s Authentic Mexican Choco-Flan

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Google the words “choco-flan” and you will instantly find a dozen recipes for the famous Mexican dessert. Composed of two layers, one chocolate cake, one flan, the dessert is creamy, moist and absolutely perfect when it comes out of the oven. What you won’t find however is this story and this recipe.

One of my former students and I (I’m a high school English teacher) were talking about recipes one day and she was sharing some of her favorite Mexican desserts. Lus (her name means “light”) was born in America to parents originally from Mexico. She has learned to be an amazing cook from her family, as well as from Youtube videos. Now, let me backtrack a little. Last semester, Lus brought me a piece of choco-flan to try. The slice was the stuff of dreams – I had never tasted anything like it. I’m a flan and custard lover anyway, but the moist chocolate cake on the bottom and a little chocolate drizzle on top took the flan to the next level. I praised it so much that a few months later, she offered to share her personal recipe. So we sat down together at school one day (she was multitasking with some vocabulary homework) and watched a Youtube video for choco-flan. Lus translated (the video was in Spanish) and told me every step she does differently, so that I could write down her secret recipe.

No matter how many choco-flan recipes I’ve seen online, nobody’s is exactly like Lus’s. Even my first try wasn’t quite as delicious as hers, but it sure did come close. Here follows the choco-flan recipe of your dreams, as created by Lus, and written down by me. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

Pans and extras

Bundt cake pan

13×9 glass pan

Tin foil

Nonstick cooking spray

1 ½ tablespoons of sugar

Cake

1 box of devil’s food or fudge cake mix

3 eggs

½ cup oil

1 can evaporated milk (14 oz.)

Custard

4 eggs

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 package cream cheese

1 pinch coffee

 

Prep the Pan

  1. Take a Bundt cake pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Melt 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar in a saucepan on low/medium heat. Then pour into the Bundt pan and coat all sides of the pan with the sugar mixture.

Make the Cake

  1. Mix in a large bowl: the cake mix, eggs, oil and evaporated milk. (The evaporated milk is used in place of water.)
  2. Pour into the Bundt pan.

Make the Flan/Custard

  1. Use a stand mixer, hand mixer or blender to blend the custard ingredients. It may be helpful to soften the cream cheese at room temperature (or in a microwave for a few seconds). I started with the cream cheese and milks, then added the eggs, vanilla and coffee at the end.
  2. Pour the flan mixture on top of the cake mix carefully. Do not be alarmed if the cake mix rises up a bit – everything will even out when baking.

Cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and place the Bundt pan in a 13×9 pan.
  2. Pour 1 inch or so of boiling water into the 13×9 pan around the Bundt pan. You may cover the Bundt pan with a little tin foil, but be sure to spray it with cooking spray and tent it so it doesn’t stick to the cake mix as it cooks.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes, then check every 10 minutes until cake is fully cooked and a toothpick comes out clean. This may take up to 1 ½ hours, depending on your oven. The cake part will be on the top.
  4. When the cake is done, let it sit on the counter until cool. Then, refrigerate for a few hours.
  5. Finally, it is time to invert the choco-flan. Use a butter knife to go between the outer edge of the cake and the pan to loosen it a little. Put a plate on top of the Bundt pan and while holding them together, flip the pan. Jiggle it until the cake has come out of the Bundt pan and is on the plate. Slice and eat plain, or drizzle with caramel sauce or chocolate syrup. Enjoy!

Fresh & Fluffy Sun Drop Pound Cake

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When you’re a kid growing up in the American South, you have the opportunity to contribute to shelves full of cookbooks. Your schools, churches, civic organizations and other community groups constantly compile and release volumes of recipes. At least that was true back in the 1980s and 1990s when I navigated grade school in western North Carolina.

Recently my mom introduced my wife Molly to a “Springfield Specialties” cookbook produced by my first elementary school, Springfield in Stanley, N.C. Children and their parents submitted recipes for the book, which was accompanied by student drawings of food and kitchen implements.

Cookbook Cover

Molly gravitated to the dessert sections of the cookbook, and she ultimately landed on a Sun Drop Pound Cake to make and sample first. Sun Drop has always been somewhat of a preferred drink on both sides of our family, particularly for our dads, so it seemed a natural choice to bake into a cake.

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Here’s the Sun Drop Pound Cake recipe, straight from the book:

Sun Drop Cake Recipe

We discovered that the Sun Drop flavor is actually pretty subtle in this recipe. The impact of the cake flour it recommends is much more profound! Molly and I had neither one baked with cake flour previously, and we learned in this experiment that it produces a fluffy, spongy cake that is quite delightful in texture and flavor, much different than the result of regular baking flour options!

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Our small town grocery stores didn’t offer many options for cake flour, so you might have to look closely or ask what’s available. I found this box hiding on a top shelf, the only one of its kind.

Adding the glaze over the hot cake leads to a very sweet, satisfying confection that we recommend you sample as soon as you make it for the best experience possible! We also found that, like many pound cakes, this Sun Drop Pound Cake pairs quite nicely with your favorite vanilla ice cream for an extra special treat.

As a #FoodieScore Pro Tip I learned from my parents during my childhood, you can rejuvenate slices of cake after it’s several days old by cutting hunks and toasting them lightly in a toaster oven or conventional oven. A slightly browned piece of pound cake with freshly and slightly melted icing is a nice surprise when you expect it to become much drier as it sits. The method really preserves cake nicely!

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Thank you to my elementary schoolmate Marinda Teague and her family for sharing the recipe all those years ago. When the Springfield cookbook debuted in 1991, my wife had just been born. The experience of baking the cake together is a reminder of the timeless beauty of cookbooks, family and community recipes, and food that connects generations of people.

Chocolate Syrup Pound Cake

This delicious chocolate cake recipe came from a news story I did as a reporter for The Star. A couple in Shelby turned their grandmother Nell’s old home into Nell’s Farm House, a place for quiet, country lodging near Shelby and Gardner-Webb University. Included in your stay is access to some of Nell’s amazingly unique recipes, like this Chocolate Syrup Pound Cake.

I was very excited to make it, mainly because of the unique ingredient of chocolate syrup, as opposed to using the more traditional ingredient: cocoa. I wanted to see how it changed the flavor and texture. So how was it? The flavor is delicious, and the texture, dense. It is a pound cake after all. But let me tell you this – its chocolate-y taste does not need icing.

Ingredients

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup Crisco

3 cups sugar

3 large eggs

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Dash of salt

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 lb. can chocolate syrup

Directions

1. Cream the butter, Crisco and sugar. Beat well.

2. Add eggs, one at a time.

3. Add chocolate syrup and vanilla.

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4. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.

5. Mix the dry mixture into the chocolate mixture, alternating with adding the milk.

6. Pour into a buttered and floured Bundt cake pan.

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7. Start in a cold oven. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Do not open the door for one hour.

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Molly’s take: I love the different taste you get using chocolate syrup in this cake. It makes it a little richer and more chocolate-y than if you had used cocoa. I also love that, unlike most pound cake recipes, this one truly is delicious enough not to need icing or frosting. Definitely one I’ll try again! Maybe with a tall glass of milk…

Matthew’s take: A thick slice of this cake and a glass of milk is the perfect pairing for a delicious dessert or snack. I believe the chocolate syrup makes the cake more moist than cocoa does, and I think that moisture helped keep the cake from getting dry after a few days. But we also didn’t have to worry about the cake getting dry because it was so good that it didn’t sit around for long. If you want a solid cake that stands alone, try this recipe.