Chocoflan (aka Impossible Cake)
This homemade Chocoflan recipe, aka “impossible” cake, yields a rich chocolate cake with a hint of orange and topped with creamy vanilla- and coffee-flavored flan. It’s finished with a drizzle of decadent dulce de leche and sprinkled with crushed walnuts.
Why This Recipe Is So Good
Chocoflan is the best of three worlds – dulce de leche, flan, and chocolate cake. Chocoflan is also called the impossible cake, because it truly is incredible.
Picture this. You pour caramel sauce (dulce de leche or cajeta) into a pan, then you pour chocolate cake batter over the caramel, and flan on top. Then, magically in the oven, the flan separates and sinks to the bottom to reunite with the caramel while the chocolate cake rises. The result is a gorgeous layed dessert all in one pan!
Once the dessert is baked in a water bath you invert it and the caramel and flan is back on top. Magic, right?
What Makes This Cake Seem Impossible?
I have tried this magical dessert many times and failed miserably before mastering it. What I should have done is test a tried and true recipe first instead of trying to develop my own from the start. I tried three times (maybe four) to develop a recipe, and each time they were flops. And when I say flops, they literally flopped. They were either under cooked, stuck to the pan, caramel disasters, or just not pretty and kinda tasteless. So frustrating!
I shared my flops on Instagram and as much as I prayed to the Chocoflan Gods, my cake did not work … again. Then, Karista, a lovely blogging amiga sent me a link to this dreamy Chocoflan made by her sister-in-law’s mother in Colombia.
Sure, I could have found an easier recipe online made with boxed chocolate cake mix for the cake layer, but I wanted to give it another try with a homemade recipe. The orange juice in the chocolate batter and pinch of coffee in the flan really piqued my interest in her recipe.
Trust me. This homemade Chocoflan is well worth the effort! I highly recommend making this recipe the next time you’re craving something decadent and sweet! This impressive dessert is a showstopper and perfect for the holidays.
This homemade Chocoflan recipe is threefold — the chocolate cake, the creamy flan, and the dulce de leche.
For the cake component, you’ll need: unsalted butter (softened to room temperature), white granulated sugar, eggs (also at room temperature), baking powder, cocoa powder, orange juice (fresh-squeezed, if possible), and pure vanilla extract.
For the flan, you’ll need: sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, eggs, pure vanilla extract, and instant coffee.
And lastly, for the topping, you’ll need: dulce de leche (I use store-bought for convenience’s sake, but feel free to make you’re own), milk, and chopped walnuts.
How To Make It
- Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and greasing a bundt pan thoroughly.
- Then, make the chocolate cake batter. In an electric mixer, blend the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs until JUST incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Then, slowly add this to the creamed sugar mixture. Once the flour has been added, stir in the cocoa powder.
- Next mix in the orange juice and vanilla. Once it’s well combined, pour the cake batter into the cake pan.
- Now, make the flan. Add all of the ingredients for this component to a blender and blend well. Pour the liquid on top of the chocolate cake batter. You’ll need to do this carefully and slowly, so you don’t disturb the cake batter or mix the two batters.
- Time to bake! Prepare the water bath (aka bain-marie or bano de maria) by placing a larger cake pan or baking dish in the oven and filling it with about 1 inch of water. Then, place the Chocoflan pan in the water bath. Let the cake bake for about 75 to 90 minutes or until the cake is done.
- Let the impossible cake cool for about an hour so it releases from the sides of the pan. When you are ready to flip the Chocoflan, pour some hot water into the larger pan and set the Chocoflan pan in the hot water for about 30 seconds to completely loosen it. Say a little prayer, and flip your Chocoflan out onto a serving platter.
- Lastly, garnish your Chocoflan before serving. Pour dulce de leche or cajeta in a small sauce pan on low heat. Stir in milk slowly to desired constancy. It should be pourable, but not so thin that it doesn’t adhere to the Chocoflan.
- Sprinkle with chopped nuts, serve, and enjoy!
This moist impossible cake will keep well in the fridge covered for up to four days. In fact, it gets better as it sits!
I don’t recommend freezing or reheating this homemade Chocoflan. Enjoy at room temperature or chilled for best results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Because of the magic that happens in the oven while the chocoflan bakes! You originally assemble the raw ingredients in this order: chocolate cake batter, then flan batter. But while the chocoflan bakes, the cake rises to the top and the flan sinks to the bottom. They flip! And all without mixing or combining with each other. Gotta love culinary science!
The trickiest part about preparing homemade Chocoflan (in my opinion) is the caramel layer – you need to caramelize sugar and pour that in the bottom of the pan and swirl it around until it has coated half way up the sides and bottom of the pan. To be honest, feel free to skip this part or purchase a squeezable dulce de leche bottle that can be drizzled in the pan instead. Or skip it entirely and once the Chocoflan is baked and inverted, pour a warm dulce de leche glaze over the cake.
Simply because it’s a combination dessert comprised of chocolate cake and silky smooth flan!
You can absolutely omit the nuts if you’re concerned about allergies!
Similar to a cheesecake, you cook chocoflan in a water bath to ensure even cooking without running the risk of burning either the cake or the flan. But most importantly, this helps cook the flan so that the end result is creamy, custardy perfection.
More Desserts To Try
- Tres Leches Pumpkin Flan
- Mango Cheesecake Flan
- Peppermint Mexican Hot Chocolate
- Berry Mexican Chocolate Cobbler
- Chocolate Applesauce Bread
- Easy Mexican Chocolate and Dulce de Leche Croissants
- Mexican Coffee Flan (Flan Café De Olla)
Chocoflan (Impossible Cake)
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 14 onces whole milk, measure it out in the sweetened condensed milk can
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch instant coffee
Dulce de Leche Glaze:
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- milk, regular milk or almond milk, as needed
- chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In an electric mixer blend the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy, almost white. Whisk in the eggs, one at time until incorporated.
- Sift together flour and baking powder and then slowly add this to the creamed sugar. Once the flour has been added, stir in the cocoa powder.
- Next mix in the orange juice and vanilla. Once it’s well combined, pour the cake batter into a well-greased cake pan.
- In a blender, add all the ingredients and blend well. Pour this mixture on top of the cake batter, very carefully so you don’t disturb the cake batter.
- Place a larger cake pan or baking dish in the oven and fill it with about 1 inch of water. Then place the chocoflan pan in the water bath (bain-marie or bano de maria). Let the cake bake for about 75 to 90 minutes or until the cake is done.
- Let the cake cool for about an hour. Then when you are ready to flip the chocoflan, pour some hot water into the larger pan and set the chocoflan pan in the hot water for about 30 seconds.
Dulce de Leche Glaze:
- Pour dulce de leche or cajeta in a small sauce pan on low heat. Stir in milk slowly to desired constancy.
- Flip the chocoflan onto a cake plate and serve. This cake holds well in the frig for several days.
- Drizzle with caramel (dulce de leche or cajeta) and sprinkle with nuts, if using.
- Serve warm or chilled.
- This recipe requires a 12-cup capacity cake pan.
- I prefer to butter the pan instead of spraying with baking spray.
- For the water bath, only add 1-inch of water. If the water enters the bundt pan, it could ruin the consistency of the flan.
- Shortcut: purchase a squeezable dulce de leche bottle that can be drizzled in the pan. Or skip the caramel layer in the recipe and pour warm dulce the leche glaze over the cake once the Chocoflan is baked and inverted.
- Store loosely covered in refrigerator.
- I don’t recommend freezing or reheating this homemade Chocoflan.
Photography by Jenna Sparks
Originally published: March 2019.