Liddie’s Traditional New Mexican Dishes: Chocolate Flan

Chocolate Flan ready to serve. Photo by Liddie Martinez.

Video showing how to prepare chocolate flan. Video by Liddie Martinez

Española Valley

Over the last decade, flan has been popping up on fancy dessert menus at high end restaurants with great frequency. It used to be that outside of New Mexico, you rarely saw it in the US and most folks did not know what it was when this special dessert came up in conversation. Now it is standard fare and holds its own among Lava Cake, Chocolate Mousse and Tiramisu.

As a kid, my sister and I would pool our money to go eat flan at El Paragua after school when the craving struck, much to the chagrin of our mother who saw this special outing as a complete waste of money. She worked as the cook at El Paragua and quickly made it a high priority to teach us the secrets of acquiring that perfect, creamy texture without leaving home. At the time I could not understand why she was so adamant about us making our own flan, but she was very frugal and now I see her reasoning.

Flan is super simple to make, and most well stocked kitchens have all the ingredients you need on hand close to 100% of the time. It’s cheap, although eggs, sugar and milk in all forms have had significant price increases with inflation upon us but, it is still much more economical to make it than to purchase.

The original recipe that is in my cookbook (page 140) is still my favorite with the hint of orange in the caramel and should be used as a base for developing an array of fantastic flavors. Last fall I made a pumpkin flavored flan with a maple flavored caramel that garnered rave reviews from those family members who counted it as great fortune to be at my dinner table when it was served as an experimental dish.

This Chocolate Flan is equally easy to make and captures that traditional chocolate caramel combination that has helped us celebrate our sweethearts when love is in the air mid-February. It is the perfect dessert to serve for your Valentine’s Day dinner or you can surprise your favorite chocolate fan on their birthday with a special treat. The truth is that once you have made it and seen for yourself how easy it is, you will be making this and several other variations often.

One bit of advice- don’t be afraid of baking with a water bath. The easiest way to achieve this is to put a kettle to boil when you have finished making the caramel; it will be boiling when you have finished the custard. Also, use a hand mixer or blender as a short cut to combine the batter. Just put all the ingredients (minus the sugar) into the blender, cover and hit the puree button. It will be smooth in about a minute, and you can pour straight into your caramel prepared ramekins waiting in a deep casserole dish. Place the casserole dish in your oven and then pour your boiling water straight from the kettle. This will eliminate potential burns from walking with a casserole dish half full of boiling water.

One last thing- remember to secure your kitchen from wandering small children or pets – nothing is worse than a burn from hot caramel!

Chocolate Flan


3 Eggs plus 2 egg whites

1 Cup Sugar

2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Chocolate

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 8 Ounce Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 can (8 Ounce) Evaporated Milk

1 ½ Teaspoon Vanilla

Tea Kettle of Boiling Water for hot water bath

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Place six ramekins in a large rectangular casserole dish and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat melt sugar until fully liquefied and cook until golden brown. Pour equally into ramekins swirling to coat bottom and sides. Set back inside casserole dish.

In a blender, puree eggs and yolks with milks, vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon until smooth. Pour equally into the ramekins. Place ramekin filled casserole in center of the oven and then pour boiling water into casserole dish covering halfway up the ramekins. Center in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until custard has set firm but centers still jiggle.  Remove from hot water bath to cool on racks then cool completely overnight in the fridge. Run a knife around the edge before turning out.

Makes 6 servings.

Editor’s note: Liddie Martinez is the author of the popular award winning Chile Line Cookbook: Historic Recipes of Northern New Mexico, which is available online at

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