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Flan Imposible (Impossible Chocolate Flan)

Ed Anderson © 2010

Servings: 8 to 10

This dessert, excerpted from the cookbook My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson, gets its name from a magical thing that occurs in the oven. You fill a caramel-lined cake pan with chocolate cake batter, pour a layer of flan on top, and bake. When it comes out of the oven, you find that the flan has disappeared, and all you see is chocolate cake. You wait for it to cool, unmold it, and there is the flan! This is a sticky, rich, sweet dessert that is not for the faint of heart.

This recipe is excerpted from My Sweet Mexico. Read our review.


  • 1 cup cajeta, store-bought (see tip, below)

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the flan:

  • 1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-oz.) can condensed milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan.Pour the cajeta over the bottom and sides of the cake pan using a brush or the back of a spoon (you can heat the cajeta very slightly in the microwave so that it is easier to spread).

Make the Cake:

  • Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined. Pour the cake batter into the pan and set aside.

Make the Flan:

  • Combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a blender and blend until there are no visible lumps. Pour gently over the cake batter.
  • Cover loosely with foil, place in a large baking dish, and fill the baking dish with hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.Remove the cake pan from the baking dish and allow to cool for at least 4 hours or refrigerate overnight. To unmold, lightly pass a warm knife around the edge, place a plate or dish on top, and carefully but rapidly flip over. Garnish with the toasted nuts. Serve cold or at room temperature.

    my sweet mexico cookbook


Cajeta, or Mexican milk caramel, is usually made with goat’s milk, and available at Latin markets. If you can’t find it, substitute dulce de leche.Reprinted with permission from My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats by Fany Gerson, copyright © 2010. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc


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Reviews (5 reviews)

  • amazincinc | 09/07/2012

    Way too late, I read the reviews of this recipe and, woe is me, I used a standard 8-inch pan with 1 1/2 inch high sides. TOOOOOOO small. I gave my 9-inch, 2-inch high pan a look and thought "oh, on this first time, I'd better follow the recipe to the letter." My AND YOUR error. My cake is now in the oven almost ready to remove and I'm sure it's going to be a mess. Additionally, I have a dish of "flan" (the leftovers from the recipe) in the oven alongside the cake. Maybe one of them will be okay. This is a fairly expensive recipe to make to have such a glaring error in the instructions. Too bad.

  • cie | 05/13/2012

    Delicious dessert. The flan was creamy and the cake light and chocolatey. I used dulce de leche and it did not stick to the pan. Be sure to use a pan with 3 inch sides. I had to cook it longer than 50 minutes. I made this for a party and had many requests for the recipe.

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