Impossible Cake (AKA chocoflan)

Pastel Imposible (AKA Chocoflan)
Recipe from Season 6, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 12generously


  • For the mold:
  • Alittle softened butter and some flour
  • 1cupcajeta (goat milk caramel), store-bought or homemade
  • For the cake:
  • 5ounces (10 tablespoons) butter, slightly softened
  • 1cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2tablespoons espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water OR 3 tablespoons espresso
  • 3/4cup all-purpose flour
  • 1cup cake flour
  • 3/4teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I like the more commonly available - not Dutch process - cocoa best here)
  • 9ounces buttermilk
  • For the flan:
  • 112-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 114-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1teaspoonMexican vanilla or pure vanilla extract


  1. Prepare the mold. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and position the rack in the middle. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch round cake pan (you need one that's 3 inches deep), sprinkle with flour, tip the pan, tapping on the side of the counter several times, to evenly distribute the flour over the bottom and sides, then shake out the excess. Microwave the cajeta for 30 seconds to soften it, then pour over the bottom of the pan, tilting the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Set a kettle of water over medium-low heat. Set out a deep pan that's larger than your cake pan (a roasting pan works well) that can serve as a water bath during baking.
  2. Make the cake. With an electric mixer (use the flat beater, if yours has a choice), beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light in color and texture. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the egg and espresso. Sift together the all-purpose and cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. Beat in about 1/2 of the flour mixture, at medium-low speed, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat. Scrape the bowl, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Make the flan. In a blender, combine the two milks, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  4. Layer and bake. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and spread level. Slowly, pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. (I find it easiest to pour the mixture into a small ladle, letting it run over onto the batter.) Pull out the oven rack, set the cake into the large pan, then set both pans on the rack. Pour hot water around the cake to a depth of 1 inch. Carefully slide the pans into the oven, and bake about 50 to 55 minutes, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, except for the very center . Remove from the water bath and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  5. Serve. Carefully run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake/flan to free the edges. Invert a rimmed serving platter over the cake pan, grasp the two tightly together, then flip the two over. Gently jiggle the pan back and forth several times to insure that the cake/flan has dropped, then remove the pan. Scrape any remaining cajeta from the mold onto the cake.



  1. I am definitely making this soon; do you think it would work work with almond, hazelnut or coconut flour? Thank you for the inspiring books and tv shows :)

    1. Hi Sherry,
      We have not tested this recipe with any other flours. Generally I would say go for it! Give it a try! But this recipe is a bit tricky and I cannot promise that it will work exactly the same as all-purpose flour.

  2. I need to ask for help making this cake. Twice I’ve tried to make it, following the directions very carefully. Each time the flan never set up and I wound up with a puddle of goo. The cake part turned out fine. And while it looked terrible it tasted very good but I am puzzled why the flan failed. Can you provide any help?

    1. How high up the sides of your cake pan does the water go? Try going higher. The purpose is dual – it helps to create a moist cooking environment (like steaming and baking at the same time) as well as conducting heat and cooking the flan from the outside in. So make sure that the hot water is high enough that it is at the same level as the flan. Hope that helps!

  3. Hello, I’ve made other choco flan cakes, but am looking forward to trying this one! One question tho, I have a can of cajeta, it is thicker than the bottled one. Will this be a problem? Thanks for your help!

  4. I am going to try and make this. Is using the expresso mandatory? The crowd I am making it for is not really into coffee. Thanks.

    1. Hello Angela –
      The espresso does not affect the flavor much, it really just acts to deepen the flavor of the chocolate. Best of luck!

  5. If I have to make it the day before will it keep overnight or do I have to unmold it as soon as it cools

  6. Not a terribly difficult recipe for this newbie but it can get labor intensive and tricky without the right tools or in a tiny kitchen. Sifting dry ingredients is a must. Delicious outcome. The bottled cajeta is pure gold.

    1. You definitely can, although it will be lacking that delicious flavor that you get from the goats milk. Another option is that in Rick’s new cookbook, More Mexican Everyday we have a recipe for slow cooker-overnight cajeta that is so delicous and easy. We also have another version here on our website. Good luck!

  7. This turned out great, a big hit. I used a 12 cup bundt pan. I put a couple tbs canola oil into the cake batter for extra moistness, and few ounces of cream cheese into the flan mixture. I covered the bundt pan with foil for most of the cooking time so the cake wouldn’t dry out. Cooking time was about 20 minutes longer than directed in this recipe. Because of the height of the bundt pan I think you need this extra time. I left it in the water bath to cool. The cake was reluctant to come out of the pan when I turned it, which was nerve wracking, but eventually it came out in one piece. Maybe I should turn it when it’s warmer, or maybe I need to do a better job with buttering and flouring the pan. Anyway, great recipe!

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