Amongst other things, my Tribal Brother, Grant Goltz is a brewer of some renown. Every year at StringFest, the annual gathering of our music, lutherie, arts, and local tribes in Hackensack, Minnesota, (just ‘Hack’ if you’re a hip local), there are endless cold kegs of his stuff on tap.
This year, he handed me a cup of syrupy, dark stuff and said, ‘try this!’ It was a seven year old double chocolate milk stout, with chocolate nibs and lactose (milk sugar) included in the brewing process. This stuff was amazing, with dense layers of coffee and chocolate notes within.
Lissa King, ‘the Martha Stewart of Northern Minnesota’, (which is bullshit – she’s way better than Stewart), took some home and made cake and cupcakes with it – those showed up the next night for dessert, and were stunning, indeed.
I immediately thought of flan when I tasted it, and came up with this recipe, which I wrote, refined, and tested on everybody Sunday night – it blew us all away. It’s got fresh stout in the caramel, reduced stout in the body of the flan, and the color, taste and scent are knockout punches. Try making this with your favorite stout, and let me know how it goes.
Urban’s Double Chocolate Milk Stout Flan
For the Caramel
2/3 cup Bakers Sugar
1/3 Cup Reduced Stout
2 finger Pinch fine Salt
For the Custard
4 Large Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Bakers Sugar
1 Cup of Stout (reduced to 1/2 cup – see below)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Paste (or 1 Tablespoon Extract, or 1/2 scraped Bean)
1/2 teaspoon fine Salt
Open and pour your chosen Stout, then let it sit while you work through prep (to kill off some of the carbonation).
Add 1 cup of Stout to a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce to a bare simmer when the stout starts to boil, and simmer until the volume is reduced by half. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl or cup to cool.
Pull a 8” or 9” cake pan, or six 3” ramekins, plus something big enough to act as a water bath for whatever you’ve chosen to bake in – a big roasting pan on braiser works great for that.
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, cream, and sugar – whisk to thoroughly incorporate, then scald, (heat only until tiny bubbles start to form at the edge of the mixture) – Remove from heat, pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, yolks, vanilla, and reduced stout – whisk to incorporate.
Add cooled milk and sugar blend to the egg blend, and process with a stick blender until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute.
Preheat oven to 350° F and set a rack in the middle position.
Check the height of your baking pan versus the water bath vessel, then add enough water to the bath so that water level will sit about 3/4 way up your baking pan. Slide the pan onto the middle rack.
In a heavy saucepan over medium low heat, add 2/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup of unreduced stout. Stir to thoroughly combine and continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Continue to stir steadily, until the caramel starts to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
NOTE – Using stout instead of water means there’s a lot more stuff in the mix for the sugar to react with as it heats up. This blend will foam aggressively, and keep doing so – So you must lift the pan from the heat and stir constantly until the foaming subsides.
Keep the pan close enough to not lose heat, but far enough away that foaming is minimal – if you don’t, you’ll get molten sugar boiling out of the pan, which is not good at all.
Reduce heat to low and continue simmering and stirring constantly until the caramel is golden brown, about another 1-2 minutes.
Remove caramel from heat and carefully pour into your pan or ramekins, then gently swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Set the pan aside.
Whisk the custard base to confirm that everything is still fully incorporated.
Fill your pan or ramekins with the custard mix to within about 1/2” of the top, then cover and seal tightly with metal foil.
Carefully transfer filled pan or ramekins to the water bath vessel.
Bake at 350° F for 35 minutes.
Open the oven and check the flan by giving the pan or ramekins a gentle shake – you should get a little shimmy in the middle, but overall it should be quite firm. If you need to go another 5 minutes or so, that’s A-OK.
Very carefully slide the rack out and gently remove your pan or ramekins to a cooling rack – allow the flan to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, run a butter knife around the edge of the pan, cover with a plate sized larger than the top of the pan or ramekins, and carefully flip the whole deal over. Slowly pull the pan or ramekins and viola – you’ve got a stunningly good dessert.