Creamy chocolate flan

Flans come in many shapes and flavors but my favorite is probably the ultra-creamy one you can find in high-end pastry shops in France. The usual variant is vanilla-based, and I'll admit I prefer it over the chocolate one as it's a tad less filling, but who doesn't like to binge on chocolate every now and then?

Ingredients

  • 450ml whole milk1
  • 150g liquid cream (30/35%)
  • 80g dark chocolate2
  • 65g caster sugar3
  • 40g cornstarch
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks

Recipe

Using a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until pale. Then add the cornstarch and keep beating until you reach a smooth texture.

While we work on that, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).

Start warming up the milk in a saucepan.

As soon as the milk reaches a boiling point (when you see the first bubbles), remove it from the stove and pour it into the egg mixture. Mix it well until combined, and put it back into the saucepan as soon as possible at low-to-moderate heat.

The goal here is to make a pastry cream (or « crême pâtissière »), literally.

Now, this part is crucial. It's important to keep the mixture moving while it's cooking so that the eggs do not curdle in the milk. Do not stop whisking, keep beating the pastry cream, do not let it reach a boiling point (no bubble!), you'll feel it thicken progressively.

If you feel like it's thickening too fast, remove it from the stove, keep stirring to redistribute the heat and put it back on.

Once thick enough (it should stick to the whisk but still slowly flow down by itself), remove it from the stove, add the chocolate, and beat it until it's melted in. Then, add the liquid cream and stir it delicately until combined.

Pour the final mixture into a baking pan. I use a 14x6cm springform pan with a flat bottom, it's the perfect size for this recipe (be aware that it will rise a bit in the oven).

Bake it for 35 minutes.

The flan is still fairly liquid once you get it out of the oven. Do not worry as it will slowly solidify itself given enough time as its temperature drops! What I do is let it cool down for about 3 hours at room temperature, then put it in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 more hours.

This last step is optional, but I like to grind some of the chocolate I used in the recipe with a knife and add it on top of the flan while it cools down. It adds a bit of crunchiness, which makes it even better.

Going further

Some ideas to improve this recipe or do variants:

  • Bury some unmelted chocolate chunks to the pastry cream right before shoving it into the oven.
  • Make a shortcrust pastry and use it as a base for the flan. Even better, make it a chocolate shortcrust pastry.
1

You can use semi-skimmed milk, but it will taste a bit more muted.

2

65% dark chocolate is ideal; don't go lower than 51% for this recipe.

3

Known as « superfine sugar » in America. You can use regular granulated sugar, you'll just have to whip harder.