Vanilla and Praliné Flan
One of the products on which almost every Frenchman grows is the Flan, it is actually a kind of custard made from milk or milk and cream, egg yolks, sugar and thickening substances (flour, cornflour) baked without or with dough. If it comes with crispy dough on the bottom and sides, then it is called Flan Patisseier.
Originally the flan’s taste is natural, only with a little bit of vanilla. Like many classics, the flan also gets more modern interpretations like caramel flan, pistachio, coffee and of course chocolate flan. By the way, the flan appears in different countries in different forms – Pastel de nata in Portugal, the English custard tart and more.
The texture of the flan is very homogeneous and unlike other desserts it doesn’t have a variety of textures, which makes it very “flat” in textures.
On my last visit to the pastry lab of Pierre-Jean Quinonero’s, with whom I recently baked the Marble Madeleines cookies that you really liked, we decided to make together his famous Flan. Quinonero creates each time a different variation on this French dessert. This time he chose to make a classic vanilla flan with almond praliné.
The flan consists of a crunchy pastry dough, a layer of almond praliné and roasted almonds at the bottom, a rich vanilla custard filling and another layer of almond praliné and decoration of shaved almonds.
The chef prepares the flan in individual dishes, but of course it can also be prepared in a larger ring mold as I chose to do, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Don’t give up the praliné cream layer, it gives the flan this twist that turns it from a relatively classic dessert into a real delicacy.
100g butter, cubed
65g confectioner’s sugar
20g almond meal
pinch of salt
160g all-purpose flour, sifted
Vanilla Custard Filling:
1 vanilla bean split and seeded
80g egg yolks (4 L egg yolks approx)
40g cornflour, sifted
80g semi-salted butter, cubed
100g whipping cream
200g praliné paste
10-15 almonds, roasted
Shaved almonds for decoration
1. Pastry Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and confectioner’s sugar, almond meal, salt and flour. Add egg and mix until the ingredients come together into a ball of dough.
2. Remove from the mixer bowl and knead briefly on your work surface until well combined.
3. Lightly sprinkle the top and bottom of the dough ball with flour, put it between two sheets of parchment paper, and lightly flatten it into a disk (don’t roll it out completely). Transfer the dough, with the paper, to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
4. Remove from the fridge, and roll out the dough to a thickness of 3 mm. Line the ring with the dough, making sure that the sides are fully filled in and straight. Using a knife, gently trim the overhanging edges. Refrigerate for 1 more hour, meanwhile preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
5. Line a parchment paper over the tart. Fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake for around 15 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven, then carefully remove the weights and the parchment paper, and return to oven for another 15-18 minutes until golden. Remove the baked crust from the oven and cool on a rack.
7. Spread a layer of praliné cream on the crust and dot with roasted almonds.
8. Vanilla Custard Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla until simmering.
9. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until they turn a creamy color. Add the cornflour and mix.
10. When the milk reaches boiling point, pour the hot liquid over the egg mix. Do this a little bit at a time while mixing, so that you do not cook the eggs.
11. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don’t scorch on the bottom.
12. When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat, add butter and cream, stir till combined to a smooth batter.
13. Pour the filling over the praline covered crust and place in the oven.
14. Bake at the same temp’ ,170 degrees Celsius, for 45-55 minutes, (depends on the oven), until the filling is firm to the touch.
15. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
16. Remove from the refrigerator, garnish with a praliné cream layer and sprinkle with shaved almonds.
*It’s recommended to remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.