With all the creamy richness of a traditional flan recipe, this Dairy Free Blood Orange Flan relies on coconut milk and coconut creamer in place of dairy milk, and features a blood orange caramel sauce and a quick pepita bark. Delight your Valentine with this spectacular and romantic dessert for two!
Today's Valentine's Day. There's a whole day devoted solely to love. Does that make any sense? Nah. Love makes us all crazy. But it's fun too.~~ Lisa Greenwald, Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Valentine's Day and Desserts!
Blood oranges start arriving at our local markets after New Years, and are typically available through February. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I once again turned to blood oranges for inspiration.
If you've followed my blog for awhile, you may be aware desserts are not my focus. In fact, my Valentine - Mark Andersen - is mostly deprived of desserts, and he dearly loves them. I ALWAYS make it a point to create a fabulous dessert for Valentine's Day. 💕 In recent years, I've done a mulled red wine and plum sorbet (2016), Mexican chocolate mousse (2017), a blood orange margarita sorbet (2018), a Peruvian-inspired passionfruit dark chocolate dessert (2020). I think Mark lost out in 2019!
After a bit of experimenting, I landed on a combination of coconut creamer (non-dairy creamer) and lite coconut milk rather than milk. The hint of coconut works well in the flan, and it's just as creamy as the best dairy flan I've had.
Blood orange zest finds its way into the custard, along with a dried red chile and a cinnamon stick, while fresh blood orange juice is the foundation of the caramel. Optional (and delicious!) orange bitters intensify the orange flavor of the caramel. Lastly, a piece of easy pepita bark, a slice of orange, and fresh mint sprig complete the dish. Delicioso!
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
Dairy Free Blood Orange Flan
- sugar - turbinado or white sugar
- blood orange - both juice and zest
- cinnamon stick
- dried red chile - I use ancho, guajillo, or New Mexico red chile!
- coconut milk - This is the canned coconut milk you'll find in the international foods section. I use lite coconut milk.
- coconut creamer - This is non-dairy coconut creamer found in the cold milk section.
- garnishes - As shown in the photos, I garnish with pepita bark, orange slice, and fresh mint.
- dark chocolate - I use a 3.5 ounce Ghirardelli 72% intense dark chocolate bar. Use what you prefer.
- pepitas - I keep raw pepitas in my pantry. I toast them in a hot cast iron pan and salt them prior to coating with chocolate. You can start with roasted and salted pepitas and skip that step.
- sea salt
- Make the caramel layer - Spray the bottom of 2 small ramekins or heat-resistant bowls with cooking spray. Put sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Using a spatula, scrape and stir until the sugar melts. Carefully add 2 tablespoons blood orange juice. Stir to incorporate, then pour or spoon half the caramel into the bottom of each ramekin, dividing evenly. Caramel should set. (This can be done several hours ahead).
- Make the custard - Warm the coconut milk and coconut creamer over medium heat in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add orange peel, red chile, and cinnamon stick. Add sugar and vanilla extract, and stir to dissolve. Turn off heat and let mixture steep for at least 15 minutes. Whisk in blood orange juice. Strain, and pour back into the saucepan.
- Temper the eggs - Beat eggs in a mixing bowl. Temper the eggs by slowly whisking the coconut creamer and milk mixture by ladleful (about ½ cup) into the mixing bowl. Whisk the tempered eggs back into the saucepan. Gently reheat to just below boiling.
- Bake the custard - Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour custard mixture into prepared ramekins (half in each). Place ramekins into a baking dish, and add hot water to the pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover pan with foil and bake until custards have set, 30 to 45 minutes. To test custards, insert a paring knife. It should come out clean, and custard should not be wiggly. Remove from pan and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate ramekins, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Make the blood orange caramel sauce - Simmer ⅓ cup sugar and ¼ cup water in a wide saucepan over medium heat. When most of the water has evaporated and sugar begins to brown, swirl pan until caramel is very dark. Off heat, carefully add ⅓ cup blood orange juice and stir well to dissolve caramel. Add 2 or 3 shakes of orange bitters (if desired). Pour sauce into a serving pitcher. Cover and leave at room temperature until you are ready to serve (or chill if you are leaving it overnight).
- Serve - Remove ramekins from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Pour half the blood orange caramel sauce on small plates. Run a small knife around the inside edge of each ramekin to loosen custard. Invert ramekin over the plate. Carefully remove ramekin to reveal a custard topped with a caramel layer. Garnish as desired.
My photos show an optional garnish of pepita bark - a super simple "recipe." It's nothing more than melted dark chocolate poured over toasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
Can I make this in advance? Yes. You can prepare the entire dish a day ahead. Keep the blood orange caramel finishing sauce and garnishes separate until serving. It will need to be reheated to thin it to pour on the plates.
Is flan best served warm or cold? This is a matter of personal preference. My recipe requires chilling a minimum of 2 hours. During this time, the caramel absorbs some moisture from the flan, and forms a sauce that looks gorgeous over top. You can warm it covered in the oven, bring it to room temperature, or serve cold. We like the blood orange flan at room temperature.
How long can I keep cooked flan in the refrigerator? You can store the flan in the (plastic wrap covered) ramekins in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.
🧂 Useful Stuff
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Have you "eaten in" with your Valentine? It's never a question at Andersen casa, as fighting the crowds for an expensive restaurant-prepared meal on this popular date night is not appealing. Given restrictions in 2021, dinner at home is even more appealing... I hope you'll consider making this lovely dairy free blood orange flan for two for your beloved!