Food and Drink

This Coconut Flan Is Way Easier to Make Than it Looks

Tastemade's new cookbook presents show-stopping recipes in an uncomplicated way.

Photo courtesy of Tastemade
Photo courtesy of Tastemade
Photo courtesy of Tastemade

A staple in Latin American countries, flan might seem like the type of dessert that’s too intimidating to try at home. How do you achieve the right texture? Can I make my own caramel? What the heck is a bain marie?

But the entire point of Tastemade‘s new cookbook, Make This Tonight, is to present international recipes in an uncomplicated way. The digital food network has compiled 100 flavorful, globally inspired recipes developed by culinary experts around the world.

“With this book, you’re going to get a delicious meal on the table that’s going to impress everybody-and you’re going to end up making it over and over again,” says Sarah Anne Bargatze, a supervising producer at Tastemade. The book is aimed toward beginners, who are fans of Tastemade’s simple recipe videos that focus on elevating flavour.

Specifically, we encourage you to take your tastebuds on a tropical vacation and start by making the coconut flan recipe included in the dessert section of Make This Tonight. While different countries have their specific way of making flan, Bargatze shared that they decided on a coconut version and took it further by using coconut milk, sweetened condensed coconut milk, and coconut flakes on top. “We call it the triple threat,” she says.

Bargatze describes this dish as flavorful, silky, and delicious. “The sharpness of the caramel pairs well with the richness of the custard,” she says. A key part of the making in this recipe is the bain marie (water bath) technique, which makes sure that the custard is cooked evenly and through perfection with a gentle heat. The reason why you should skip the oven it’s because it would be too strong for the eggs, and that will ruin the silky texture you’re aiming for. “In this case, patience pays off,” Bargatze assures.

The tools required should be things you already have in your kitchen: a 9-inch cake pan or pie plate and a roasting pan. And while it’s a very straightforward process, making a flan requires all your attention and some techniques to make sure the flavours and textures come out perfectly. “It’s a good way to introduce anyone to caramel-making and bain marie if they’ve never made them before,” says Bargatze.

As for the coconut custard, the recipe takes it to another level with the star of the show, almond extract. “We [decided to add] the almond extract to give it another layer of toasty nutty flavour that we get from the freshly toasted coconut on top at the end, but in the flan itself,” Bargatze says.

In order to get the silky, smooth texture she recommends: “After you mix the eggs into the coconut mixture, you run it through a sieve before pouring it into the tin to bake.” That way you avoid larger egg parts into the mix to ensure you always get the perfect outcome.

Once you finish, it will benefit from some time in the fridge. Bargatze recommends from six to 24 hours before you turn it out and serve it, which is why you want to make sure to prepare it ahead of time if you’re hosting people over. And while the flan itself is delicious on its own, Bargatze encourages you to enjoy it while sipping a nice cup of coffee.

Coconut Flan Recipe

Yield: One 9-inch flan

• 1 cup sugar
• 3 cups full-fat coconut milk
• 1 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk (see Note)
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 5 large eggs
• 5 large egg yolks
• Hot water
• ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Set a 9-inch cake pan or pie plate inside a roasting pan.
3. In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup of the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil over medium heat-do not stir. Cook, undisturbed, until the caramel is deep copper.
4. Pour the mixture into the cake pan, tilting the pan so the caramel coats the bottom. Return the cake pan to the roasting pan and let the caramel cool slightly.
5. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, sweetened condensed coconut milk, and the remaining ½ cup sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 3-4 minutes.
6. Watch carefully so the mixture does not boil over. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the salt and almond extract. Let cool slightly.
7. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolks until smooth. Add ½ cup of the hot milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly, to warm the eggs. Once the egg mixture is warm, stream in the remaining milk mixture and whisk to combine.
8. Strain the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the cake pan to cover the caramel.
9. Transfer the roasting pan to a pulled-out oven rack. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come as high up the sides of the cake pan as possible. Bake until the flan is fully set but jiggles slightly in the middle, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
10. Remove the flan from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
11. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the flan before inverting it onto a large platter. Top with the toasted coconut and serve immediately.

Note: They use sweetened condensed coconut milk in this mixture for its rich and creamy coconut flavour-it packs a concentrated punch. If you can’t find it, regular sweetened condensed milk will work, too.

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Andrea Devoto is a New York-based writer and digital creator from Peru and Puerto Rico. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Food and Drink

We Tried 22 Trader Joe's Dips and Here's How They Stack Up

From vegan tzatziki to fiery Zhoug sauce to classic spinach, these deserve a spot in your cart.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

With football season looming over us, that only means one thing: dip season is back. Whether you’re gathering for an end-of-summer bash, watching the game, or in dire need of a snack to indulge in while binge watching the latest Netflix series to drop, dips are the perfect option. And at Trader Joe’s, there are a lot of dips to choose from.

That’s why we decided to write this guide to dips, with helpful pairing ideas for each. So whether you’re interested in something spicy and don’t know what to eat with Zhoug sauce, or you want a classic spinach dip, these are almost all the dips at Trader Joe’s reviewed for your needs (we’ve excluded hummus and salsas, otherwise it’d be miles long and your heartburn would be even worse).

Buffalo Style Chicken Dip

This Buffalo-style chicken dip is a cult favourite and with good reason. The sharp tang and heat of Buffalo sauce is present, but relatively mild in terms of spice level. That, paired with the tub of shredded chicken, makes for a filling dip ideal for watching a sports game. Although Trader Joe’s suggests eating it hot, it’s delightful cold as well.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Caramelized Onion Dip

The caramelized onion dip is one of my favourites that Trader Joe’s has produced. It’s delectably sweet, like a French onion soup, but balanced perfectly with the tang of the sour cream and mayo base. The texture of this dip is mousse-like; fluffy, light, and airy. It’s an onion dip but upgraded.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Chimichurri Sauce

Although this chimichurri sauce lives in the dip section, we think of it more as a condiment. It’s lovely topped on meats or slathered in sandwiches. The ingredients are simple-parsley and cilantro are the defining items here-but you’re left with a very flavorful and aromatic olive oil-based sauce. If you really want to use it as a dip for crostinis, that would work, too.
Pair with: eggs, steak, shrimp, rice

Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeño Dip

This dip can be heated up or eaten straight from the fridge-both versions remain creamy, piquant, and spectacularly chunky, as advertised. The main flavour takeaway is the artichoke, which this dip is loaded with, but you will feel a tingle of spice from the jalapeños, too. It reminds me of schmear and would definitely make a great spread for a bagel.
Pair with: bagels or bagel chips, tortilla chips, pretzels

Cauliflower Jalapeño Dip

Of all the dips, this one took me the most by surprise. I associate cauliflower with blandness, but this is far from that. It has a smooth texture (which surprised me because cauliflower can also be gritty), and a subtle heat from the jalapeños. I would prefer a bit more jalapeño, but it’s mild enough that anyone can enjoy this at a party.
Pair with: Veggie tray, potato chips, strawberry & jalapeño crisps

Everything and the Elote

Maybe it’s the fact that fresh elote is so amazing that renders this dip a little bit disappointing in comparison. It’s seasoned well with chipotle, cumin, and chili powder. But what it’s really lacking is in the name. There’s not enough sweet corn kernels in this dip to balance out the other spices and the cheese. Perhaps if you added this fresh corn, you could make a large batch of esquites.
Pair with: organic corn dippers, corn salad

Everything But the Bagel

I do feel like it was a misstep to use a Greek yogurt base rather than a sour cream and cream cheese blend for this dip to really give the vibe of breakfast bagels. Sure, the Greek yogurt is still sharp and smooth, but the dip feels runnier than it should be. That being said, if you’re a fan of everything bagels and the seasoning blend Trader Joe’s makes, this will fulfil you: poppy seeds, dehydrated onion, dried garlic, and black sesame seeds galore.
Pair with: bagel chips, Everything But the Bagel crackers

Garlic Spread Dip

It’s obscene how delicious this garlic spread dip tastes on just about everything. Personally, I can eat it by the spoonful. It’s smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of lemon juice and the unmistakable aroma of garlic. Yes, it’s delicious by the spoonful, but would also be delicious in a thousand other applications.
Pair with: pita bread, rotisserie chicken, tortillas, sandwiches, honestly everything

Green Goddess Dip

Like the titular salad, this dip is bright, very green, and refreshingly herbaceous. The avocado and green onion are strengthened by garlic, shallots, chives, and basil. Unlike homemade versions, this dip contains both eggs and sour cream, so keep that in mind for plant-based friends.
Pair with: sandwiches, salads, veggie trays, multigrain crackers

Herbed Tahini Sauce

I was expecting a stronger nuttiness from this herbed tahini sauce, but the dominating flavour is garlic and a tartness from the citric acid. It’s still refreshing and a great partner to falafel and sandwiches, but the tahini flavour is in the background. I can really envision this as a successful sauce for a cold noodle salad, spruced up with additional sesame seeds and perhaps a dollop of chilli crisp.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, garlic pita chips, cold noodles

Olive Tapenade

If you’re an olive fan, this Trader Joe’s tapenade will hit the spot. Crafted from a blend of black olives, green olives, and pimentos, it’s the right amount of saltiness and perfect chunky consistency for scooping. It would fare well atop hummus, scooped into a pasta salad, or just eaten straight.
Pair with: a charcuterie board, fig & olive crisps, pasta salad

Pimento Cheese Dip

I would argue that this pimento cheese dip does the Southern classic justice. Each bite is full of sharp cheddar and studded with diced pimentos for a dip that is simultaneously chunky and creamy. Would be excellent on a pimento cheese sandwich.
Pair with: multigrain crackers, tortilla chips, bread for a sandwich

Romesco Dip

The romesco dip is like summer unlocked through a small, eight-ounce container. There’s a brightness from tomatoes, a fuller, rounder flavour from roasted red peppers, and nuttiness from almonds. I think of it as a red almond pesto, almost. It’s great with veggies, could be tossed in a pasta, or just eaten with a hefty cracker.
Pair with: pasta, veggies sticks, raisin and rosemary crisps

Smoked Salmon Dip

If you’re a fan of lox, you’ll be a fan of this dip. It’s briny and salty and pleasantly fishy but the capers work well to cut through a flavour that may otherwise feel overwhelmingly rich. There is a generous amount of fish in this dip, as well as seasoning, so it really only needs a blank canvas to let it shine.
Pair with: bagels, multigrain crackers, or even pasta (try this Trader Joe’s recipe)

Sour Cream Spinach Dip

This is perfectly acceptable. It is not the most exciting dip on this list, but it does provide that classic spinach dip flavour, albeit a bit more tart due to the sour cream base. It would benefit from some cheese, but as far as dips go, it is thick, creamy, and very scoopable.
Pair with: toasted baguettes, multigrain crackers, a cheese board

Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip

Like the other spinach dip, this dip isn’t mind-boggling, but a twist on the classic that only clocks in at 30 calories per serving. The kale adds a tiny bit more dimension to this otherwise regular dip. Put this out on game day and surely it will be consumed; there are just better dip options here.
Pair with: toasted baguette, fig & olive crisps, Everything but the Bagel crackers.


Trader Joe’s does this classic condiment justice. It begins with a kefir cheese and sour cream base that’s filled with sliced cucumber, plenty of dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Use this dip as a side for a gyro plate.
Pair with: Dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Vegan Buffalo Dip

This is a very successful reinterpretation of Buffalo dip. It’s tangy and zesty, with all the qualities that make for a plant-based alternative to this classic. One critique is that once opened, it does tend to get watery fast, but the flavour is so good that if you bring this to a party, it likely won’t last very long.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip

This is not far off from the regular caramelized onion dip. The flavour is still sweet and savoury, there are large squares of perfectly browned onions in each bite, and the consistency is creamy. I would say it’s not quite as light and fluffy, like mousse, as the original-but the dairy-free cream cheese base is still a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Vegan Nacho Dip

Vegan cheese can be a hit or a miss, but Trader Joe’s succeeds here. This cashew-based dip is luxuriously creamy and has all the meltiness a regular nacho cheese would also possess. You won’t find grittiness here, but will find a flavour that has the desired saltiness that will impress vegans and non-vegans alike. Just make sure you don’t overheat the dip and stir constantly-like dairy cheese, it will split otherwise.
Pair with: tortilla chips, tacos, burritos, fries

Vegan Tzatziki Dip

I’m amazed at this vegan tzatziki dip. Trader Joe’s has truly found something special with its dairy-free, cream cheese base. This is just as tangy, dilly, and cucumber-filled as its yogurt counterpart, meaning it’s delicious.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Zhoug Sauce

This Zhoug sauce is amazing. It’s herbaceous and fiery and flavorful-definitely the spiciest dip of the bunch. What I really love about it is how simple the ingredients are (only eight things in total!) and how they all work in tandem. Cilantro is undoubtedly the star, sure, but pops of cumin and cardamom paired with the heat of chile flakes and jalapeños really adds dimension to this Yemeni-inspired dip.
Pair with: eggs, garlic naan chips, organic corn dippers, or your favourite protein.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.


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