This Mexican flan is three layers of delicious excitement. A husky caramel, a sweet flan and fluffy chocolate cake. Two of the layers siwtch places during cooking – this cake is as much fun to eat as it is to make.

Don’t miss the step-by-step photos.

¡Es imposible!

Chocoflan is also called the Impossible Cake. The caramel layer stays put, but the chocolate and flan layers swap places when the chocolate cake puffs up and floats over the still liquid flan during cooking.  The pressure cooker – unlike the oven Bain Marie–  increases the suspense because there is no peeking.

pressure cooked chocoflan

Likely a fist adaptation to the pressure cooker, this classic Mexican recipe – traditionally cooked Bain Marie in the oven- could take up to an hour or more (as David Lebovitz discovered after an hour and half )! But thanks to your pressure cooker, and a tube pan this magical flan can be ready after just 15 minutes under pressure.

Chocoflan Variations

Chocoflan has many variations for each of it’s three component (caramel, custard and cake).

The top layer can either be carmel, cajeta (condensed caramellized goat milk) or even dulce de leche – it is spread in the form to prevent the flan from sticking  but can also be drizzled over the cake right before serving.

While the “flan” part is primarily a custard made with both condensed and sweetened condensed milk-  I found that using just one of them still makes a delicious custard. But really… any custard recipe will work here, including  lighter Creme Caramel. I’ve found versions containing cream cheese and even coconut milk!

The chocolate layer can be plain chocolate,  or chocolate with mocha (like Rick Bayless’s version), and other spices.

Tube Pan in the pressure cooker!

For this recipe I use a new pressure cooker accessory: the Tube Pan. The advantage being more surface area for the super-heated vapor in the pressure cooker to caress and no worries about a cake where the middle might not set. I’ll publish more detail on the advantages and uses of this pan in the pressure cooker at a later time. You can absolutely use small aluminum or steel forms, pressed glass custard cups, and even tea-cups in this recipe – though thick ceramic ramekins may keep the custard from setting properly.

Tube pans to use in the pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
5 L or larger  steamer and tube or mold/cup    15 min.    High(2)  Natural

Chocoflan - The Impossible Cake! Mexican Pressure Cooker Recipes
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
I won't kid you. You need a lot of dishes to prepare this cake. In addition to the pressure cooker and accessories you will need a saute' pan, three mixing bowls, three forks a spatula, tin foil along with measuring cups and spoons - so start with an empty kitchen sink or dishwasher and throw in the used dishes as you go.
This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz's adaptation of the recipe in My Sweet Mexico .
For the Caramel:
  • ¾ - 1 cup sugar
For Flan:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (8oz) cup whole milk
  • 1 (8oz) cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or one envelope of vanillin)
For the cake:
  • ¾ cup or 150g sugar
  • ¾ cup or 110g flour
  • ⅓ cup or 35g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • ½ (125ml) plain whole milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. Prepare the pressure cooker with 2 cups of water and trivet or steamer basket and set aside.
  2. Construct an aluminum sling for lowering and raising the pan out of the pressure cooker and set aside.
  3. Prepare the caramel as instructed in the Creme Caramel recipe, and then quickly pour it into the tube pan and swish it around to cover as much of the sides as you can - wearing oven mitts. Alternately, spread Dulce de Leche or Cajeta in an even layer (like buttering).
  4. In a medium mixing bowl make the flan by breaking up the eggs well with a fork and mix in the milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Set aside.
  5. In another medium mixing bowl mix all of the dry ingredients for the cake. Add the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well with a clean fork and set aside. In a small bowl break up the egg with a fork and then mix in the yogurt and oil. Using a spatula scrape out all of the egg and yogurt from the small bowl and combine with the flour/cocoa mixture using a fork and mixing only until the ingredients are just combined - the mixture will be like a thick paste.
  6. To construct the whole dessert, spatula out the chocolate cake mixture into the caramel (or dulce de leche) coated tube pan and flatten into a somewhat flat and even layer. Next, pour on the flan mixture on top of that. Set the tube pan in the middle of the foil sling and lower into the pressure cooker, uncovered.
  7. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
  8. Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Lock the lid and cook for 15 minutes at high pressure.
    It may take longer for silicone or ceramic containers to pressure cook.
  9. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural pressure release.
    Electric pressure cookers: Disengage the “keep warm” mode, or unplug the cooker, and open the lid when the pressure indicator/lid-lock has gone down (about 20 to 30 minutes).
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes).
  10. Lift the dessert out of the cooker and let it cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate and chill for 6-24 hours. To UN-mould, run a skewer butter-knife along the inner and outer edges of the cake. Top with an upside-down serving plate and quickly flip. Remove the tube pan from the cake and serve with an optional sprinkling of ground pistachios or pecans.

Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker Recipe


Caramellized Aluminum Tube Pan for pressure cooker chocflan

Making chocflan in Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker
Chocoflan BEFORE and AFTER pressure cooking - the layers swap places!
Pressure Cooker Chocoflan
Pressure Cooker Chocoflan is 1/2 chocolate cake + 1/2 flan = all WOW!

Chocoflan - Mexican Impossible Cake - Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot recipe!


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  1. Have you ever done a regular flan in the pressure cooker?

    1. Yes. You can pressure cook a regular flan recipe and pressure cook it. OR…

      You can try one of mine!
      Creme Caramel
      Pots de Creme
      Crema Catalana (Brulee’)



  2. Do you need the trivet in there?

    1. Yes, either a trivet or a steamer basket – when cooking bain marie in the pressure cooker the container is actually being steamed and is not sitting in water as in the oven bain marie.



    2. Thank you. Love the blog by the way. I get alot of inspiration here :)

  3. Any advice for trying to cook this in an ELECTRIC pressure cooker??? I love your Blog also, very informative and a motivator for me to use my PC more!! Thxs K

  4. Kate, check your manual and see if your pressure cooker reaches 13-15PSI. If so, you can cook the “shorter” time in the range of 15-20. If it’s less, you can always follow my recipes and use the longer cooking time (20 minutes). If you do not have a “high” setting, choose meat setting.

    Have fun!



  5. Every time I try and do a custard based dish in the pressure cooker, this one, ordinary flan, pot de creme etc … it always gets bubbly and rises then falls like a bad souffle .. any tips for avoiding this ?

    1. Ciao Paul,

      What is causing the bubbles is not only enthusiastic whisking, but also the flan boiling – when the pressure cooker has quick pressure changes. Although this recipe calls for “high” pressure and cooking it un-covered (because of the chocolate cake layer which protects the flan somewhat) my plain” flan recommendations are slightly different.

      Here are my tips for fewer holes in your flan…

      1. Filter the custard mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the mold – it sounds counter-intuitive but it will leave any “foam” in the strainer and only let the smooth custard through.

      2. Always wrap them tightly with foil (contrary to the un-covered way they are cooked Bain Marie in the oven).

      3. Unless specifically noted, like this recipe, always cook at low pressure – higher pressure is higher temperature and eggs can easily “scramble” themselves and become un-appetizing.

      4. Always use Natural Release – this more delicate release will slowly change the pressure.

      5. Reduce cooking time until you find the perfect timing for flans in your cooker.

      Some pressure cookers will, by the nature of their mechanism, always get you a holey flan because maintaining pressure means small bursts of over-pressure and releases (jigglers, whistlers and weight-controlled valves) each of which brings a little violent boil in the food.

      I hope this helps!



  6. What is the diameter of the ring pan? The link went to one that is 5.25 inches, but the one pictured appears to be much larger.

    1. Ciao Patrick, mine is 20cm or 7 3/4 inches. However, I see a very similar pan on amazon which is 7 1/2 inches wide but VERY expensive! Also, I’m concerned that it may be too tall to fit in most pressure cookers with a trivet. Should you find one like this, and see that it is too tall with the trivet, you can construct your own as suggested by Lorna Sass by making an aluminum foil “sausage” and then putting it in the pressure cooker as a “halo” onto which you can put your tube pan.

      Very expensive, somehwhat tall, wider tube pans:

      Tube Cake Pan 3″ H, 7-1/2″ Top, 6-1/2″ Bottom

      or less expensive and a fun shape (though the removable bottom may not work well with the chocoflan (try it!)..

      Mini Angel Food Cake Pan Flower Shape – 7.5″ Diameter x 3.5″ Deep

      Keep hunting around, because I found mine at the Europshop (Dollar store) for under €3!



      P.S. You can also make a chocoflan in a non-tube pan- though you may have to check to see if it’s done in the middle when finished – if not, pressure cook longer until it is!

  7. Can you tell me what I might be doing wrong with this recipe? I’ve tried it twice and the chocolate cake turns out perfect but the flan never sets up, even when I let it sit in the fridge overnight. The first time I cooked it 15 minutes, the second 20? Both times when I flipped the cake the flan sort of slid down onto the place, not staying up and nice like your pictures. Yummy but not so pretty . . . I am using a 7 inch/1qt capacity bundt pan. Thanks!

  8. This recipe worked really well for me! The only glitch was that the recipe was more than my pan would hold, and I didn’t think about that when I was putting the chocolate batter in, so only about half of my custard would fit. I cooked the leftover custard afterwards, but i wish I had saved out some of the caramel and batter and made a little chocoflan to go along with the bigger one.

    1. WOWWW! It still looks great. I must make this again soon!



  9. My cake batter was light and fluffy when I put it in the pan but it never floated above the custard while cooking. Consequently it came out heavy and dense.

    I was using a prepared dulce de leche instead of traditional caramel.

    Do you have any ideas or suggestions?

    1. Did you follow the recipe here for the cake batter?



  10. I’m pretty sure I got all of the ingredients in properly measured, though I mixed the wet ingredients in my stand mixer and added the dry ingredients to that.

    The leavening reaction had begun when I put the batter in the pan.

    Maybe I over mixed it?

  11. I’d really love to make this in my 6qt instant pot. I saw that your can using the 15- 20 minute cook time. And I have a couple of questions.
    1. Can I use the 6cup Nordic Ware Bundt pan? Or is it too small?
    2. How much water do I put in the bottom of the instant pot base?

    Thank you! It looks AMAZING

    1. I don’t know that particular pan, but from memory, a Bundt is a German ring cake so it should be fine. Just check it fits with a little room at the sides, and isn’t too tall.

      Looking at the photos it looks like Laura is only half filling her pan. So go with that. I assume the extra is to allow for expansion. If you have left over, make some mini cakes in ramekins with the left over. It is what I do when I make the fruit pudding as my main bowl is about a cup smaller than the recipe needs. And it is too hard to shrink the recipe. (7/8 of an egg anyone?)

      As for the water in the bottom, as always use the minimum amount specified in your manual. From memory the Instant Pot is 1.5 cups. Sometimes Laura finesses the amount if there will be other contributors to the liquid (e.g. veggies). But in this case stick to the manual.

      1. As general rule the 3-qt and 6-qt Instant Pot should have one cup of liquid (water or other liquid such as beef or chicken stock) in the bottom for creating the pressure they will need (unless the recipe specifies otherwise). The 8-qt IP should have 1.5 cups of liquid (again, unless the recipe specifies otherwise).

  12. Hello Laura!
    Regarding your Chocoflan recipe, I can’t get the flan/batter to flip! I am using the larger tube pan from the manufacturer identified by your link (8.75” instead of the 7” something), for my 8 qt. pressure cooker.
    I increased all ingredients 30%, because I assumed you wrote the recipe based on the link you included, which defaulted to the 7” pan.
    The first time I followed your time recommendation for a stovetop pressure cooker, 15 minutes on high, 10 minutes off (natural release), per your instructions. Since I wasn’t sure if that was for the 8.75” or 7” tube pan from Amazon, today I tried a longer cook. This time I went 17 minutes on, 10 minutes off, but the flan was still on the top! So I put the lid back on and pressure cooked another 5 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and the flan is still on the top!
    I pressure cooked it uncovered, but I see your comments in the comments section to cover? Please clarify. Any suggestions? Thank you for your time and for your online recipe!

    1. Mike, my guess as to why the batter is not rising is because bubbles didn’t form in the chocolate cake batter which would make it “float” above the flan. Did the “cake” part of your chocolate look particularly dense? A couple of things might be to blame such as in-active baking powder, not using un-sweetened chocolate (with is slightly acidic and activates the baking soda) or even the thickness of the tube pan which might not have heated the batter enough to activate the rising agents.

      Yes, I recommend covering with foil to slow down for more delicate cooking and protect the flan part from being over-cooked.



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