Flantastic Flan Parisien

A few weeks ago I was visiting my grandparents in France. They live in a lovely city in the French Alps, named Grenoble. Grenoble is known for it’s lovely walnuts, chestnuts and with all the lovely mountains surrounding the city, they of course have great dairy products.

Grenoble is a vibrant city with loads of history and appreciation for high quality products. It can be seen through many of the lovely fresh produce markets, but also reverberates through all the specialty shops. In a lovely little street called Rue de Strasbourg where many specialty shops are located, one of my favorite shops opens every morning at six o’clock. The shop, owned by a Meilleur Ouvrier de France Fromager, is called Les Alpages.

I must admit, even though I am part French, I absolutely hate cheese which is a bit of a strange contradiction saying one of my favorite shops is a cheese shop. It is not because of all the cheeses they have from all over the world, but because of all the fresh dairy products they have. I could not live in a world without butter and I think pastry is a lot less exciting without lactose. Fromagerie Les Alpages sells the most beautiful cream from farmers in the mountains surrounding Grenoble and tasty butter from Normandy, so it is a store I truly can relate to. The shop usually has a line well around the block, so be prepared to wait for your fresh cream and cheeses if you are into that. I could not resist to bring home some flavored butters and cream.

When I got back home from my mini vacation, all I wanted to do was remake a true French classic with cream being the star of the dish. So it was time to whip up a traditional Flan Parisien.
Flan Parisien comes in many variations, but it is truly a French pastry shop classic. Some pastry chefs make their flan with a puff pastry base, but a sweet shortcrust pastry is also an option.
In my flan, I used a flaky puff pastry base, since I wanted to have a nice crunchy contrast with the rich cream. Be sure to use the best ingredients you can find, the recipe is simple so let them be the stars and shine in their quality! I could not be bothered with making my own puff pastry, since there is some high end puff pastry available in the shops these days. I will hold of the puff pastry process for another blog post, so in the meanwhile go ahead, and buy the best all butter puff pastry without any guilt!

Flan Parisien
– 200 grams all butter puff pastry, best quality you can find
– 2 vanilla beans
– 50 centiliter full fat milk
– 325 grams cream, 35 % fat
– 2 large eggs
– 2 large egg yolks
– 210 grams icing sugar
– 85 grams corn flour
– 25 grams butter + extra for greasing
– apricot jam

Preheat your oven to 170°C / 338°F and grease a 26 cm round ovenproof dish or spring form and set aside.

If you can find a big enough sheet of puff pastry, cut a circle and place it into your dish. If, like me, you have little sheets of puff pastry, stack them together (without the plastic guards of course) and roll them until you are left with one big sheet of buttery doughy goodness about 0.5 cm thick. Cut out a round big enough to completely fill the greased dish.

Once you have your puff pastry into it’s place, pierce it with a fork to make sure it does not puff up too much during the baking and to release any trapped air underneath. Cover it with a piece of parchment paper and fill with pie weights. I use dry chickpeas but you can also use ceramic pie weights or even sugar. Place your puff pastry into your preheated oven and bake until it has a nice blond/golden colour or about 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and put back your pastry for about 5 minutes.

While your pastry is in the oven, it is time to prepare your cream. Slice open the vanilla beans and remove the seeds. Place the seeds, empty pods, milk and cream into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Take of the heat and let infuse for 15 minutes.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, egg yolks and corn flour and combine. Discard the empty vanilla pods and add some of the cream mixture to the egg mixture. Making sure it is well blended, add the egg mixture to the remaining cream and put back on a medium heat while stirring constantly.  It is very important to keep on stirring since the cream has a tendency to set and burn quite quickly! Since burnt cream isn’t the flavor we are going for, work those arm muscles while you keep an eye on the cream.

As soon as the mixture is starting to thicken and the first bubbles are appearing, take it of the heat and transfer to another bigger bowl. Let the pastry cream stand for a few minutes until the mixture has cooled a little bit. Add the butter and stir into an smooth mixture.

Add the cream to your pre baked pastry shell and place into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until the flan is lovely golden. If you want your flan to have a little gloss, brush a little apricot jam over the top once your flan is out of the oven.

Enjoy your Flan Parisien lukewarm of cold and keep it in the fridge for about 3 days.

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