Durian Flan คัสตาร์ดทุเรียน

durian recipe
Ah, durian. Can you think of any fruit that’s more controversial and divisive? You either despise it or adore it.

Those who hate it, please avert your eyes (Now that you’re here, may I interest you with some Thai or gluten-free recipes in the archives?). Those who can’t have enough of it, please read on.

Durian (ทุเรียน), as is the case with most fruits, is best eaten fresh. The opportunity to enjoy perfectly-ripe Mon Thong (หมอนทอง) or Kan Yao (ก้านยาว) durians in their natural state alone justifies flying half way around the globe, if you’re a durian fiend like me. Short of that, the only durian avatar that does any justice at all to fresh durians would be durian in sweet coconut cream over sweet coconut sticky rice (ข้าวเหนียวน้ำกระทิทุเรียน). On a good day, I’m also willing to make an exception for sweet durian paste (ทุเรียนกวน) — the concoction most commonly used as one of the most popular mooncake fillings. That’s as far as I’m willing to go.

But durian cakes or cookies? Nah. Growing up or these days whenever I visit Bangkok, it has never occurred to me to seek out or make any treats wherein durian serves merely as a perfuming agent. I don’t have anything against durian chiffon cake or durian-flavored spritz-type cookies — the most common of all inferior durian avatars; I have eaten tons of them and would still continue to do so, if force fed. I just don’t think those are the best applications for such an expensive fruit whose greatest virtue lies in the creamy, custardy texture and sublimely sweet taste. I’ve seen tons of durian cake or cookie recipes where you’re supposed to whip up a huge batch of batter with just a tiny bit of durian pulp added. The exiguity of durian used in those recipes only serves to magnify their pointlessness.

You don’t really taste durian that way. You detect mild durian scent and that’s about it. (At a risk of undermining the width and depth of my love for durian, the scent is not the best part about durian; the texture and flavor are.) I’m sure there are people who don’t agree with this, but such is the fate of all opinions in this world.

Besides, I don’t really see the point of consuming any durian derivatives if you live in a place where plump, golden, sweet, and creamy flesh of the incomparably delicious fruit can be found any time, anywhere.

Alas, things are different here in Chicago and I am forced to drastically lower my standard. In my neck of the woods, “fresh” durians are available in two forms: frozen whole durians (sometimes thawed and sold at room temperature to lead people into thinking that they’ve never been frozen) and frozen prepared durian pulp (pitted durians wrapped in cellophane and frozen).

Both are barely edible.

In this case, transforming durian into durian-flavored treats is more than justified in my biased mind. Still, some respect needs to be paid to the king of fruit. Though undressed, abused, gutted, and previously-frozen, the thawed-out monarch still reigns and I am obligated to treat him accordingly. If he can’t be restored to his former glory, at least I need to make his avatars as close as possible to the taste and texture of the original.

And that means sweet, creamy, and custardy.

In future posts I will be writing about three ways which I like to use frozen durian pulp: durian in sweet coconut cream over sweet coconut sticky rice (ข้าวเหนียวน้ำกระทิทุเรียน), durian coconut gelato, and durian coconut flan. While the first is strictly Thai, the second and the last are obviously not traditional Thai desserts. I’m doing my best to keep them as Thai, or at least Southeast Asian, as possible. The use of coconut milk certainly helps make that goal possible.

In case you have been distracted by my rambling, we’re making durian flan today. I’m offering two ways in which you can make this.

durian recipe
1. Do you have a favorite sweet potato or pumpkin flan recipe which you’ve successfully used over the years? If so, all you need to do is:

  • Replace the sweet potato or pumpkin with equal amount of durian pulp.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in the flan proper(not the caramel) by 30% as durian pulp is much sweeter than sweet potato or pumpkin.
  • Replace all or half of the milk (or half and half or cream) with coconut milk.
  • The only caveat for this method is that if your favorite recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, it’s too complicated to swap out ingredients. In that case, your best bet is to go with the other way to make durian flan.

    2. Follow my recipe:
    Print It

  • In a blender, liquefy 16 ounces of durian pulp (thawed), 3 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs, 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz.) of full-fat coconut milk (I use Chaokoh, of course), 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch; set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Get some boiling water ready, along with one 8-inch pan and a larger pan into which the smaller pan can fit.
  • In a saucepan, melt together over medium-low heat 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 4 tablespoons water. Do not stir, but swirl the pan gently to allow the sugar to melt and caramelize evenly. Watch the caramel very closely. When it takes on the dark amber color, immediately remove the pan from heat and pour the caramel into the 8-in pan, trying your best to cover the bottom of the pan entirely. Should you fail, fret not; the problem will somewhat solve itself after the custard is baked.
  • Pour the prepared durian mixture over the caramel. Place the filled pan inside the larger pan, place the whole thing in the oven, and pour boiling water into the larger pan just enough to come half way up the side of the smaller pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is barely jiggly. Remove the custard from the water bath, let cool, refrigerate for 3 hours, and unmold by running a knife around the edges and turn the pan over gently onto a serving plate.


25 Responses to Durian Flan คัสตาร์ดทุเรียน

  1. Anna January 24, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    This is pretty brilliant – what better vehicle for a custardy fruit than a flan? You’ve given me some ideas when it comes to things like cherimoyas. I’ve never had durian but I think I’d be game to try it. I’ve read that it’s closely related to jackfruit, which I adore but seems to be not so custardy, more of a slippery mango texture. Are they at all similar?

  2. Sam January 24, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I want to like durian so bad. I’m willing to give it another try (my first try was…well, it was frozen and it didn’t go so well) if I can get a good fresh one.

  3. unclevinny January 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    I will admit that I’m slightly terrified of durian. People say that it smells horrible. But now… now I’m wondering…

  4. Quasi Serendipita January 25, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    You won’t believe the number of durian related discussions in our house, mainly based on the fact that I am scared of a fruit… I really have to get over it and try durian one of these days!

  5. tracieMoo January 25, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    Never had anything like this. Durians, I totally adore. These desserts look simply delicious!

  6. Manggy January 25, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    My dad tells me I used to eat tons of durian when I was a kid. I wonder what happened to him? 😉 Love the flan though– looks perfect.
    What do you think of durian candy?

  7. Mel- GourmetFury.com January 25, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    Durian is a fruit close to my heart. It’s a close call between that, custard apple, and mangosteen. The flan looks a-ma-zing, love. I’m learning so much from you! <3

  8. ♥peachkins♥ January 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    OMG! I am addicted to Durian Ice cream, I would go crazy for Durian Flan!

  9. 5 Star Foodie January 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    This is a gorgeous flan and I am very intrigued about the flavor of durian here, will need to try it to find out!

  10. Thip January 25, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    How did you like it?
    p.s. Durian is not allowed in our fridge since Mark’s allergic to its smell. 🙁

  11. Leela January 25, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    It’s delicious, Thip, assuming that you’re a during fan which, based on the frown, you must be. You should post a sign in the kitchen saying, “Love Me, Love My Durian” or something like that.

  12. OysterCulture January 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm #

    I confess I have never had straight, fresh durian – the warning signs with the big X through it in Singapore on their metros did not help. Also, I have to say the durian sorbet we tried left something to be desired. That said, because you spoke so highly of it, I’ll try my hand at this flan. I know its an acquired taste (or more to the point – smell) so I’m looking forward to acquiring.

  13. Cam de la Ron January 26, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    This looks great. I don’t think I’ve ever had Durian. Is it that fruit that Andrew Zimmern hates??? Well, looks good to me!

  14. Juliana January 26, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Unfortunately I am not a durian fan, but would like to try this flan…looks yummie 🙂

  15. Don January 26, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    Durian is my dad’s favourite, he spending most of his childhood in Malaysia. I’m so going to make this for him for his birthday! Printing and adding to my stack of “Leela’s recipes to try.”

  16. LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! January 26, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Flan is one of my all time favorite desserts! I’mve never tried durian before but i am willing to give it a try and I have just the pumpkin flan recipe to substitute it in =)

  17. Leela January 26, 2010 at 1:43 am #

    Oyster – Durian is indeed an acquired taste. I believe exposure to it since childhood explains to love many, if not most, Southeast Asians have for durian. But it wasn’t love at first sight for me, though. I tried it for the first time because all my older cousins loved it and I felt left out. It wasn’t until the 5th or 6th try that I came to appreciate it.

    Did I just tell Miss Oyster the story of my first time?

    Cam – Yes, this is the only thing Zimmern couldn’t handle. I felt both amused and annoyed at the same time watching him spit out and make fun of durian right in front of the proud farmer who had just patiently explained to him how it was grown, harvested, etc. The farmer strained to keep smiling for the camera after Zimmern had made all those comments and I felt really bad for him. Hating durian is okay, but more sensitivity is definitely in order when you are speaking of something that is someone else’s source of pride and livelihood right in front of them. The clip is on YouTube.

  18. Ravenous Couple January 26, 2010 at 2:17 am #

    what a great idea! will definitely have to try this..a great tribute to the king of fruit!

  19. Gabriella January 26, 2010 at 4:11 am #

    Dear SheSimmers, last time I had flan was in Greece when I would get the pre-made kind. I saw you had a recipe for durian coconut flan and I never knew what durian was till I read this and it sounds like it would make eating flan a new experience! WOW. Geez Louise, all my favorite foods on your site too. This is my first visit to your site and it’s exceptional. Well organized, well written and great clear pictures. I shall enjoy returning for a bite of more. Thank you for sharing,
    Ciao, Gaby
    You can visit me at http://ptsaldari.posterous.com

  20. lisaiscooking January 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    I’ve never tried durian, but I’m so curious about it. And, I love flan. I want to taste this now, please.

  21. Rasa Malaysia January 27, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    OMG, I want I want.

  22. Marc @ NoRecipes January 27, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    I’ve had durian a few times (always frozen) and to be honest I didn’t get the big deal. It’s not as stinky as people make it out to be (no more than an aged cheese), but on the flip side I don’t get the “king of fruits” reference. Maybe I just haven’t gotten good ones? This looks like something I’d certainly like though. Great job on the caramel, the color is perfect!

  23. Eleanor Hoh April 7, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    I love durian prepared in any shape or form, so flan, I’m in! This looks so perfect. Agree with Marc about the smell, too much fuss. It is either a love or hate situation.

  24. eT&K January 11, 2016 at 11:28 pm #

    Made it yesterday for my parents and it was a huge hit. Making it right now for my in-laws. I personally am terrified of this putrid fruit, but it brings so much happiness to loved ones… Excellent recipe for durian eaters and lovers. Beautiful writing. Highly recommend! Thank you so much.


  1. My Favorite Food Items of 2011 from A to Z and Giveaways | SheSimmers - December 28, 2012

    […] to be utterly unpleasant to eat straight up (due to its texture), I’ve been using it to make durian flan (คัสตาร์ดทุเรียน) and sweet sticky rice with durian coconut cream […]