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jazzing up a flan

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm aiming to make a Mexican-inspired flan, adding lots of cinnamon and some chocolate to the usual milk and eggs (aiming for a Champurrado-like flan). I would like to add some different textures, though. Maybe a "praline" with crushed, chocolate-covered espresso beans? A carmelized-mango chutney (does mango carmelize very well?)

I've seen recipes that call for serving the flan on a mini-cake. I'm preparing this in a 2 qt. souffle dish, rather than ramekins, so this might be harder to pull off.

And speaking of souffle dishes, should I still cook the flan at about 325 in a water bath? Should I adjust the temperature since I'm not using ramekins?

post #2 of 6
You'll want to bake it slower, because it's a larger dish. Go down to 300, and keep it covered. All your variations sound unique, but the praline seems to work best with choc. and cinnamon, in my opinion. I think you'll have a hard time unmolding a huge flan onto a cake- I think it could break. Let us know how it goes.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks, momoreg, for the tips. I did go with a praline using crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans. Sure enough, the praline turned a little too bitter for my taste from the beans. If I do this again, maybe add coffee liquer instead? How would that affect the sugar syrup, though - would the alcohol affect the chemistry in a meaningful way? only one way to find out, I guess.

Another thing I tried was using chocolate produced by a local chocolatier (Vosges Chocolate). They make an "Oaxacan" bar, a 75% cacao bar flavored with guajillo y pasilla chillies. Eaten as is, the slight hint of chiles really adds a nice warmth to the chocolate and provides a really great finish. I was hoping this would carry through into the flan, but not so much. I probably would have been better served adding in chiles to the custard directly, and not via the chocolate, right? What would be a good way to do that - add chiles as a powder? make a puree out of re-hydrated chiles and substitute that for some of the milk?

This same chocolatier also makes a "Red Fire" bar, a 55% cacao bar with Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers, and Ceylon cinnamon. I've had this, too, and it's quite spicy. With either bar, would it have been better to add some shavings to the finished flan?
post #4 of 6
I bought a box of their chocolates while we were in Chicago. Wild stuff!!

For a chili flavored flan, I'd probably steep chiles in hot milk, and add it to your flan mix gradually, and keeping track of how much of that chile milk you've poured in, in case you need to dilute with fresh milk. I've never attempted this, but that seems the most practical way of not producing an overpowering flavor.

For the choc. espresso praline, you could make your praline with coffee extract (trablit), or super-strong espresso. I don't think alcohol will give you the intensity that you're looking for, by the time it all cooks down. You might also try, instead of the choc. covered coffee beans, making your own chocolate bark, with small bits of coffee bean sprinkled on top (like nibs). I don't know if you're familiar with coffee flavored chocolate beans (I think Kopper's makes them), but they are a nice garnish, without the bitter flavor of a real bean.

When you refer to adding shavings to the finished flan, do you mean dried anchos or chipotles?? I'm not quite following. I think that might be overwhelming, but it's worth a try, if you're willing to experiment.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Considering that, for the first time ever for me, my friends are all of whatever dessert I had prepared, I will be trying this again, and I will try steeping the chiles in the milk.

When I said shavings, I meant chocolate shavings. There would have to be a *lot* of flavor in the chocolate to impart much if they're just shavings, right?

I was skeptical of Vosges chocolates at first, but I've had some really good ones (but don't get me started on their chocolate + yoga idea). I'm really looking forward to trying their Jamaican-inspired truffle collection.

This talk of preparing a really savory dessert flan reminds me of something I heard a pastry chef say recently. When asked how he keeps his pastries current and up to date, he replied that "you have to look at what's popular generally, and then find your own creations within that context. We're now at the intersection of sweet and savory, and so do things like olive oil sorbet, etc etc".

A friend I was with turned to me and said, "I wish I lived at that intersection". As do we all, I imagine.

post #6 of 6

Fundador, Coconut, Chiles and Choc Coffee

I used to do a Fundador Brandy flan with a choc coffee bean caramel that was pretty awesome...used an expresso/fundador reduction in the flan with a mix of chiles de arbol and chiles japonese in the cocunut cream (robocouped into a powder, infused then strained...a little dab will do ya...)

As far as larger cakes placing flans on top....have done it but am not all that crazy about the texture, perhaps because I use a lot of caramel on my flans, so by the time of service the cake was pretty saturated and I did not care for the soggyness....for a banquet or catering event it was ok, but not for a la carte service...

When I did the flan like that I put aluminum on the cardboard round I was turning the flan over on and coated it with pan spray and it was pretty easy to move and place

I have tried larger flans but have not had that much luck with them, I always made them work, but was never really happy with them unless I used a large pan and still only made the flan a thin product. If you did a thicker flan I would be interested in hearing the recipe or the chemistry behind your thought, I have not done flans for quite a while but I love them darned things, especially when you add that little creative spirit and make it something off the wall by pushing the envelope for the sake of culinarycraziness....

I was a guest chef at a restaurant in Greenville, SC last March and Chef Rodney did a foie gras creme brulee that was very intense and unbelievable...I love that kind of stuff....

I had another thought but will have to look back at the posts since we got rid of the quick reply and see what it was...

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Chef Michael Hayes
Trying to make a difference one palate at a time...

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