Flan was a regular staple at the end of a meal in my family. It is easy to make in advance and keeps well refrigerated and much lighter than a crème brûlée. My mother used cubes of sugar to make caramel, and knowing exactly how many sugar cubes to use to make caramel made it fast and easy. Here I’m using almond milk as a way to make this recipe lactose free, but feel free to use other milk if you do not have lactose intolerance in your family.
For this recipe I decided to add hazelnut praline because a dear friend of my boyfriend loves hazelnut desserts and I made this one in Leslie’s honor. It takes a few extra steps to make the praline, and it is well worth it.
For the flan:
3 farm fresh eggs
2 cups organic almond milk
4 Tbsp organic sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the hazelnut praline:
1 Tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 cup hazelnuts (shelled and preferably skin removed)
3/4 cup organic sugar
3 Tbsp water
For the caramel:
1/2 cup organic sugar
2 Tbsp water
4-6 individual ramequins or terrines with lids (depending on size)
Large baking dish for the water bath
Preheat oven to 375F
If the hazelnut still have skins, place them in the oven on a baking sheet in a single layer for a few minutes.
Take them out of the oven before they brown and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Once cooled, rub them between your hands to remove the skins.
Making the hazelnut praline:
Brush a thin layer of oil on a marble surface or a baking sheet.
Place sugar and water in small sauce pan.
Melt sugar into caramel until temperature reaches 130 C (266 F).
Add the whole hazelnuts. Continue cooking.
The sugar will initially react to the hazelnuts by crystallizing. Keep cooking, mixing vigorously using a wooden spoon.
Once the caramel is dark brown, remove the pan from the heat. Be sure not to over cook the caramel, otherwise it will burn and you’ll have to start over.
Pour it immediately onto the oiled marble or baking sheet, spreading the hazelnuts so they do not overlap.
Once cooled and hardened, break it up by hitting it with a rolling pin.
Place the broken pieces into a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Process until you obtain a granular powder. Set the praline aside.
For the caramel, place the sugar and water in a small pan and cook until dark brown.
Remove from the heat and pour into the ramequins.
Immediately sprinkle a layer of praline powder so it sticks to the caramel.
Pour the almond milk into a pan and heat until boiling.
Meanwhile, place three eggs into a mixing bowl.
Add the vanilla and whisk the eggs until completely blended.
Add the sugar while whisking vigorously until the mixture is pale yellow and foamy, and has doubled in volume. Note: please keep whisking while adding sugar to the eggs otherwise the sugar will “cook” the eggs.
Add the hot milk into the egg mixture continuing to whisk until fully incorporated.
Note: it is important that you pour the hot milk into the bowl with the eggs and not the other way around. If you added the egg mixture into the hot milk, it would cook the eggs.
Using a ladle, pour the mixture equally into each ramequin. Feel free to fill them up as much as you wish. These will not rise during baking, and rather sink once cooled.
Place the ramequins into a baking dish with a water bath.
Place in the oven for about 40 minutes until the top is brown and feels settled.
Once cooked, take out of the oven and let cool. Then place the lids on top of each ramequin and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, run the blade of a knife around the flan.
Place a plate on top and reverse it upside down, shaking a bit to ensure the flan detaches from the ramequin onto the serving plate.
Sprinkle additional praline powder and decorate with a few extra hazelnuts. Enjoy!