Coconut Matcha… Flan?

So, St. Patrick’s Day! Last year I celebrated by making comically green pancakes dyed with matcha green tea and garnished with green kiwi. If you know anything about me, you know matcha is perhaps my all-time favorite ingredient and I’ll use it anytime I get the opportunity. So why not continue the green tea theme and make this matcha…uh, flan?

Here at One Ingredient Chef, we’re well-versed in turning cuisine inside out by making ordinary dishes out of bizarre ingredients that come together for amazing flavors; a la cauliflower rice or chickpea ricotta. But taking a Mexican dessert, infusing it with Japanese green tea, and serving it for an Irish holiday? Maybe we’re taking this too far.


Cultural technicalities aside, this incredibly simple recipe is just coconut milk solidified with agar and infused with just a little matcha and maple syrup. 4 ingredients. Simple.

Now, I am well aware that this dessert looks totally silly, but don’t even mess with it. The flavors are too serious. A creamy coconut base with slightly bitter matcha and sweet notes of maple syrup all solidified into a custard-like dessert? Oh yes. If you can procure some matcha and agar (they’re easy to find and last forever in your pantry), give this one a shot. It takes just 10 minutes and you won’t regret it.


Makes 2 servings


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons agar flakes
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ground sesame seeds for garnish
  • Dark chocolate for garnish

Step One

Add the coconut milk to a saucepan with the maple syrup and agar flakes and warm over medium heat. Agar flakes are very similar to gelatin (except made from sea vegetables instead of horse’s feet…) and provide an incredible amount of thickening power. These clear flakes can typically be found near the asian ingredients in most grocers. They do, however, need to be activated by heat, so allow this mixture to simmer just below a boil for about 3-4 minutes while stirring regularly.

Step Two

The agar flakes should technically dissolve in heat but this has never been the case for me, which is why step 2 is necessary: transfer this coconut agar mixture to a blender and add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of matcha and blend for several minutes on your highest setting to fully dissolve the agar and blend in the matcha powder.

Step Three

Choose the type of dish you’d like to use. I have small Japanese teacups that work well to create a rounded “dome” as pictured, or you can use ramekins and just fill them half way to create a disc (see below). Before pouring, use a paper towel to smear a little vegetable oil inside to make for easier removal. Then, pour the liquid into the dishes and tap against the counter several times to remove bubbles.

Step Four

Allow to refrigerate for at least 3 hours to fully harden and set. When ready to serve, you can either serve inside the dishes (easier) or be brave and use a knife to slowly scrape around the edges of your dish to hopefully pop them out in one piece. Either way, garnish with ground sesame seeds and/or chocolate shavings.

Happy Mexican/Japanese St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂




Leave a Reply
  1. That’s really clever, Andrew. Just the idea of flan used to gross me out (it’s a texture thing) but I would absolutely try this.

    • Thanks! I agree, flan has kind of a weird texture, but this is probably a little different… it’s firmer and more like cheesecake texture as opposed to jello. Oh, in fact, I bet you could make a killer healthy vegan cheesecake by thickening coconut milk with agar… Thanks for unintentionally giving me a great idea, Lizz! 🙂

  2. Come on, Mexican/Japanese/Irish desserts are the best, duh. “Agar is like gelatin, except made from sea vegetables instead of horse’s feet.” Haha! Love it. You’re hilarious. This dessert is not hilarious at all though. It’s like, seriously amazing. I need to get some matcha in my life. Have you ever tried Pirate’s Chai?

    • Well, of course Mexican/Japanese/Irish desserts are the best! 🙂 Haha, I think more people would jump on the idea of eating seaweed once they realize their jello is made from the hooves of horses… 🙂 Woah, I just looked up Pirate’s Chai. It looks like matcha but with chai spices? I must try!

    • Hi LeAnn, I’m using the canned version. It’s the regular full-fat coconut milk (not the milk replacement beverage in the refrigerated section).

  3. Where, where, where, can I find matcha (that’s not in the tea already!!) We live in the great white north, by the way!

    • Ah, you’re going to make me divulge my secret sources, Pamela! 🙂 I use for matcha and gyokuro green tea. They’re based directly in Japan and will import small packages of the freshest and most delicious tea you’ve ever tasted… all at prices similar to the low-quality matcha in grocery stores.

  4. Hey Now,

    Growing up in Japan, one of my favorite desserts was flan, or as the Japanese call it purin. Can’t wait to try this recipe out, we love matcha.

    • That’s so interesting, Chris! I know flan isn’t exclusively Mexican. It’s basically just a custard that has it’s own variations from all around the world. It just seems to be mostly associated with Latin America these days.

  5. Yay Hooray! Thanks for this. I will make it right away; I have of course not had the green tea cheesecake at Kokoro (a Denver chain) since becoming vegan four years ago. I know this is going to be awesome!

  6. This looks awesome (and so green!). I have been meaning to experiment with agar for a while… thanks for the inspiration!

    • Hi Fleur, I think it would definitely be possible to make this without matcha. Maybe you could use cocoa powder instead?! 🙂

  7. I LOVED the consistency that I got but the agar made it taste like a coconut fish. Is it type of agar I’m using? I didn’t use matcha but used cocoa powder instead. I was seriously heart broken that I didn’t get the flavor right.

    • That’s really interesting, Erica! I just double-checked my agar (the Eden Foods brand) and it definitely does NOT smell or taste like fish. It’s very odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Which brand are you using?

  8. Wow this looks soooo good! And what a great idea to make a matcha flan!
    I would eat matcha in anything and with everything 😀

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