How To Make Dairy-Free Flan That’s Delicious *and* Low in Sugar

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Want to liven up your Wednesday with a dairy-free flan? Say no more, friends. 

Sweet and creamy with a golden layer of caramel sauce, flan really is a one-of-a-kind dessert. But if you live a dairy-free life, it’s one that’s off the table for you, lost to the dairy-rich dessert wasteland along with cheesecake and ice cream cakes.

Mastering the perfect flan—which is a popular dessert in Spanish, Mexican, and Latin American cuisines—is already a challenge in and of itself, but Sashah Handal, the host of the latest episode of Alt-Baking Bootcamp, went above and beyond by not only crafting a recipe for delicious flan, but also one that’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and low in sugar. How’s that for a quarantine baking challenge?

Handal says the inspiration for her recipe came straight from her childhood—but with a few key substitutions. The custard is made with equal parts coconut milk and coconut cream. This mixture not only gives the flan its creamy texture but also adds natural sweetness. Handal also uses coconut sugar in place of table sugar. “Coconut sugar blends this beautiful caramel-y flavor and color, so it’s actually really perfect for this recipe, which is custard and caramel,” she says.

Here’s Handal’s secret ingredient when making the all-important caramel sauce: pumpkin puree. Yep, besides the rest of the dessert’s ingredients (vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, and eggs), the pumpkin is key to making a dairy-free caramel sing, as it forms a syrupy texture when cooked on the stove without the use of butter or cream.

When making the custard, Handal says a water bath is crucial. “It keeps the texture creamy, yet firm and helps the custard bind together,” she says. In the episode, she shows exactly how to do it, filling the baking tray with water and then putting it in the oven.

Watch the episode above for a step-by-step on how the dairy-free flan recipe comes together. You’ll see that while it is a bit tedious, it actually isn’t that hard! You’re so close to sweet, caramelly flan. It just might be your most delicious pandemic project yet.

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