It’s a cheese wheel! It’s a moon! It’s a flan Parisian!
Yes, a flan Parisian — not Parisien. Why? Because I’ve Americanized it… err, anglicized it… err, you know, made it less French. Sorta.
It’s not entirely a bad thing — at least not in this case.
While authentic flan Parisien is rich in sweet vanilla and milk, it’s also loaded with cornstarch and has this texture that’s not amazingly appetizing.
The French like it well enough (you can buy it at nearly any coffee shop in Paris), but, unless you plan on building a bouncy ball empire out of rubbery custard, I think this whole chewy flan thing could use a few improvements.
My version of flan Parisian (adapted after following what seemed to be a fairly authentic recipe to the letter and not enjoying the results anymore than I enjoyed flan in Paris) is a little more creamy, a little more eggy, and a little less caramelized on top than the real thing, but, well… I like my version a lot better.
Oh, and I baked it in a fluted tart shell, but gimme a break here — some people don’t bake it in a shell at all!
If you don’t wanna make the sweet dough tart shell (or if you don’t have a fluted tart shell), you can always use a pie tin, just like Bill did with his version, and it will still turn out lovely.
Flan Parisian (Vanilla Custard Tart)
*adapted from Pastry & Sports
- 1 cup sifted (100g) icing sugar
- 7 tablespoons (95g) butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 & 1/2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 & 1/2 cups (625ml) whole milk
- 1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
- 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
- 1/3 cup (40g) cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
First, make the tart dough — enough to line a 9-inch tart shell. Mix the icing sugar and butter together — do not beat vigorously or “cream” together. Add the egg and egg yolk and lemon juice, then mix until incorporated. Gently mix in the flour until smooth.
Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm, and chill for at least 1 hour.
When ready to use the dough, roll it out to about 1/4 inch (3mm) thick — carefully line the prepared tart shell. Don’t worry if the tart dough tears a bit — it is very forgiving and can be patched up easily.
Use a fork to poke small holes all over the bottom of the tart shell, chill the dough-lined tart shell in the fridge for at least another hour.
When ready to make the flan, pre-bake the tart shell at 350°F/175°C for 12 ~ 14 minutes (pie weights should not be necessary if the dough has “rested” long enough).
Leave the oven on and allow the shell to cool while you make the vanilla custard filling.
Sift the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Combine the milk, heavy cream, and split and scraped vanilla bean pod and seeds in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Heat until the milk mixture begins to steam, then slowly pour it through a strainer and into the whisked sugar + cornstarch + eggs mixture — if you don’t have an extra pair of hands, I found it easier to pour a bit, whisk, pour a bit, whisk, and so on. It’s important to not “shock” the eggs by dumping in all the hot milk at once.
Once the milk is completely tempered into the other ingredients, return the custard to the stove.
Whisk constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom and the sides of the pot, until the custard thickens slightly (until the consistency of a creme anglaise, or it coats the back of a wooden spoon).
Pour the thickened custard into the pre-baked tart shell.
Bake the flan at 350°F/175°C for 35 ~ 40 minutes, or until the middle is set and barely jiggles when nudged.
At this point, if you want a more caramelized top, then feel free to put the flan under the broiler with the oven door open and watch it very carefully while the custard browns.
Let the flan cool for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving — preferably with a cup of tea or coffee. Leftover flan should be stored in the fridge and warmed up again before eating.
This is the perfect treat for vanilla lovers, so bon appétit!