Vla is a dairy dessert that is so engrained in the Dutch kitchen, that you will find at least one or two packages of vla in every refrigerator. It's traditionally the most favorite dessert to finish a meal with. If you’re invited into someone’s home for a casual and typical Dutch dinner, several packages of vla could show up on the table after dinner for you to make your choice.

Most often, people will have two or more favorite vlas: with a selection of over twenty flavors, it is easy to find several that you like. The most common flavors are of course vanilla and chocolate, but others like caramel, lemon, raspberry...you name it. Seasonal vlas include stoofpeertjes vla, made with the flavor of slow simmered pears in berry juice, or apple/cinnamon for the fall, and lighter ones, mixed with yogurt for the summer or spring.

With our predilection for coffee, it is not surprising that a coffee-flavored vla is possibly one of the most popular ones on the dairy shelf. Based on the flavors of the famous Haagse Hopjes candy, this custard is worthy trying!


  • 100 gram (3.5 oz) sugar
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz) milk, warm
  • 75 ml (2.5 fl oz)  strongly brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks

On low heat, caramelize the sugar in a pan with a heavy bottom and add the sugar.
Mix both coffees with the milk and stir well to dissolve the instant coffee granules. When the sugar has caramelized, take the pan off the stove and let it cool a little bit. Add the milk in the pan and bring everything back up to a slow simmer. The caramel will soften and eventually dissolve. Continue to stir.

In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with the two egg yolks. Take a tablespoon of hot milk out of the pan and add it to the mixture, stir well and add another one. Do this three more times so that the egg/cornstarch mixture is up to temperature. Take the pan off the stove, and carefully stir in the egg mixture. Return the pan to the heat, and slowly bring up to boil, all the while stirring.  The custard will thicken in the next two to three minutes.

Pour the vla in a bowl, cover with plastic film to avoid the formation of a milk skin, and refrigerate until cold. To achieve the pourable consistency, you may need to add a tablespoon or two of cold milk to the vla and stir it well before serving.