While waiting in line at the grocery checkout we chanced upon a copy of “The Best of America’s Test Kitchen” issue full of ATK’s best recipes. Once home and flipping through the pages, one of the last pages caught my eye: Magic Chocolate Flan Cake. In true ATK fashion, there was a lot of trial and error and ultimately an explanation of how it works. But I didn’t read any of it. I just wanted to start making something called Magic Chocolate Flan Cake!
As luck would have it, we had a dinner party to go to and dessert was our responsibility. I picked up all the ingredients after work on Thursday, purposely skipping the caramel, since it called for “high quality” caramel and none was to be found. Rather than compromise quality, the only natural decision was to make my own — which I did Friday morning after my run and before work…
That night everything needed to be prepped. INGREDIENTS: ASSEMBLE!
First task, grease up the bundt pan and lay down a layer of the (homemade, what what!) caramel in the bottom.
Next, mix up the chocolate cake. Chocolate chips, butter, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda (lots!), eggs, vanilla, cocoa, and buttermilk. The key to making the magic happen is the combination of baking soda and buttermilk. Spread that over the caramel, and now would be a good time to move the bundt pan into a large roasting pan.
And then mix up the flan ingredients in the blender. Eggs (lots!), cream cheese (weird), vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk. GENTLY pour it over the chocolate cake layer, preferably over the back of a spoon. Careful! It makes enough flan to overflow the normal size pan.
Fill the roasting pan half way with water and transfer it to the middle of a 350° oven. Watch out for the side walls of the oven or else you’ll get some nice matching burns on your middle knuckles. And after about 85 minutes you’ll get something like this!
It was tough to tell when I pulled it from the oven, but that’s chocolate cake showing at the top of the pan! So let’s recap: first add caramel, then add chocolate cake, and then add flan. Bake, and when you take it out, the chocolate cake and the flan HAVE FLIPPED! But we can’t confirm until it chills for at least 8 hours. See you tomorrow!
Always one for the dramatic, I decided to wait until actually arriving at the dinner party, after eating dinner, and after everyone is ready for dessert before flipping the pan. There was no backup plan. So with all eyes on
me the cake pan, I flipped it onto a platter and hoped everything would come out. And boy did it come out! Just look at that cake!
And finally, cutting into it in all its glory, the moment was tense.
But as the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work.
The result is amazing. The cake is almost a fudgy brownie, thanks to the melted chocolate. The flan holds up beautifully, I am guessing from the unusual addition of cream cheese. And the caramel, well, duh. It’s rich, decadent, and plenty of other adjectiv… luxurious, sinful, unremorseful, delectable, and the list goes on.
As for those of you looking for a recipe, I saved the original from America’s Test Kitchen when it was available for free. It also has more info on the
science magic of how it all works, like specific density and displacement and whatnot. But we all know the truth that it’s just magic.