If you’ve read some of my other baking recipes, you’d know that I definitely don’t hold back on the dairy. When I came across the opportunity to develop a recipe with Almond Breeze almond beverage, I thought it would be interesting to do a dairy-free dessert. I’ve always been a fan of Almond Breeze, their new line of refrigerated almond beverages can now be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. I tasted some when I received samples of their new product line. I love how refreshing and creamy it is, and that it is enriched with calcium, yielding only 60 calories per cup. I thought a flan recipe is the perfect way to showcase the nice nuttiness and creaminess of the almond beverage while preserving the familiar richness of dairy. Its texture worked surprisingly well in this recipe, making the flan so velvety smooth. To add even more caramel flavour and richness, I made an almond praline to incorporate into the custard. My twist on the classic French dessert made dairy-free – almond praline flan.
- 200 g / 1-2/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted in a 300 F oven for 30 minutes
- 1 scraped vanilla pod, optional
- 40 g / 3 tbsp water
- 135 g / 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 75 g / 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
- 10 ml / 2 tsp hot water
- 400 ml Almond Breeze original unsweetened almond beverage (refrigerated variety)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 75 g / 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
- 30 g / 2 tbsp almond praline paste
- In a medium saucepan, cook together sugar, vanilla pod, and water to make a syrup, boil for 1 minute on medium heat. In the meanwhile, heat almonds in a microwave oven for 1 minute. Pour warm nuts into hot syrup, turn off heat, stir the mixture slowly. The sugar will start to crystallize, wait for 1 minute. Turn heat back up to medium, the sugar will start to melt again, keep stirring slowly. Cook until the sugar has coated and caramelized the almonds evenly. Take out vanilla pod, if using. Be careful not to burn the caramel. Pour caramelized nuts onto a parchment lined sheet pan to cool.
- Save a few almonds for garnish. Place the rest in a food processor. Blend for about a minute, scrape down sides and process until it turns into a paste. The longer you process it, the more "runny" the paste will become. Store in a clean jar, refrigerate if desired. *This recipe yields more than you need for the custard, but it is absolutely delicious on toast or as a pastry filling.
- In a small saucepan, heat sugar on medium heat to make a dry caramel. Swirl the pan as the sugar melts, try to avoid stirring the sugar to prevent crystallization. Cook to amber colour, stop heat, carefully add hot water. Stir briefly, and it will become a syrup. Quickly pour into six 150 ml moulds or ramekins. Place moulds into a deep baking dish.
- Preheat oven to 325 F / 160 C. Have a kettle of boiling water ready when flan goes in the oven.
- Heat almond beverage with vanilla bean in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. When the almond beverage begins to simmer, turn off heat. Temper eggs and sugar with hot almond beverage - pour milk into egg mixture in three additions, whisking well after each addition. Finally whisk in almond praline paste.
- Strain custard into a measuring cup, or a vessel with a spout that is easy to pour with. At this point, you can also skim off the foam on the custard for a smooth texture. Pour custard into the six prepared moulds. Bake in a hot water bath - place baking dish into oven, carefully pour in boiling water along the edge of the dish. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until centre in slightly soft but not fully set. Take out from even, cool custard on rack. Chill thoroughly in fridge until ready to serve.
- To serve, run a toothpick around the edge of the mould, cover with a plate, carefully flip it over, give it a shake or two and it should come out easily. garnish with reserved almonds.
The flan or crème caramel is one of most classic French bistro desserts. It is simple yet satisfying. I always cook my caramel just before it turns too dark and bitter to get the most careamel-y flavour, but you can cook it a little lighter if you prefer. This dessert is all about the caramel: the caramel on top and the caramelized nuts in the praline.
If you haven’t made a nut praline paste before, don’t be intimidated. It may seem like a long process, but it is worth the effort. You can make it with hazelnuts as well – much better than Nutella in my opinion. The caramelized almonds are so deliciously addictive, I just snack on them before even processing them into a paste. Praline paste makes a great spread on bread, dessert fillings, such as a chocolate ganache. It adds such a wonderful flavour to the flan. It complements the smooth creaminess of the almond beverage exceptionally. When I think of dairy-free desserts, I expect something that is sub-par to the original version. The mouth feel of the flan was so luscious that I forgot it was made with Almond Breeze. I can proudly say that this flan is just as good as the dairy version if not better. This recipe also works without the praline paste, simply omit it and increase sugar to 80 g / 1/2 cup and proceed with the same method. If you fancy chocolate, also check out the chocolate crème caramel recipe, so chocolaty and decadent!
Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Almond Breeze. I have been compensated monetarily. All opinions are my own.