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Hello Seasoned Advice community, I'm looking for some flan advice please! Thanks in advance for your answers.

A family member has a dairy allergy, so for several years have been swapping cow milk out of recipes for oat milk. In the majority of cases, this works fine, but with flans and custards, I've struggled.

I've recently overcome texture issues, but the main problem now is that the flans are always a grey colour - not very appetising! - instead of your classic light brown-yellow flan shade.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to make the colour more flan-like without adding colourings? Or are there any non-dairy alternatives anyone has tried that give you that classic flan hue?

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    Are you avoiding all colourings or only the non-naturals ones? An old trick to get food more yellow was to use a little carrot juice, not sure if it will work here.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 16:43
  • @Willeke sounds like an interesting idea, will give carrot juice a go and report back... Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 19:48
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    I'm not sure if carrot juice is the way to go here, flan is a delicate flavor and carrot could be noticeable, why not just use caramel coloring?
    – GdD
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 20:06
  • I haven’t used oat milk so I don’t know what color it starts as, but coconut milk seems to be the most pure white of the plant milks that I’ve found so doesn’t throw off colors in uncooked dishes. I don’t know how it browns when cooking, though
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 17, 2023 at 11:07

2 Answers 2

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A very small amount of turmeric should make it more yellow without affecting the flavor much, if you're concerned about adding artificial food colouring.

Otherwise you could try soymilk? I generally have better results swapping it in for non-dairy milk in recipes; I think the higher protein content gives you better odds of getting the nice caramel-ish color that you want on a flan.

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  • You can extract some of the colour and less of the flavour from turmeric into a little oil. Plant milks usually contain some oil, so a little more might be OK. I had a little play with this a few years ago. That would help for the bulk of the filling; you'd still need more browning on top
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 15 at 10:05
  • Revisiting this after a few years - thank you for your answer, I initially avoided soy as CMPA sufferers are advised not to consume soy in addition to milk. However my family member’s tolerance has improved and soy is now okay. I have been using soy in cheesecakes and to make condensed milk and agree it has the most dairy-like properties of the non-dairy milks. Thank you Commented Apr 16 at 13:17
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I find ‘coconut milk beverage’ (the stuff in cartons intended as a milk replacement, not the ‘coconut milk’ in cans) to be the best replacement when trying to deal with color issues for non-dairy milks, as it’s pure white. You can then dye it if necessary to achieve some other color

Rice milk is also white, but I find that it has a less viscous nature that makes it not ideal as a replacement.

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  • Thank you! My family unfortunately rejected coconut and almond milk alternatives due to the non-neutral taste, but I have not tried rice milk. I have recently discovered a few oat mill brands with a much whiter colour than the original i was using. Italy was pretty brown, but tasted better imho, while Glèbe farm is white and certified gluten free, but a bit watery for e.g. cereal. Fine for baking though! Commented Apr 16 at 13:23

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