This is no ordinary flan. (Of course, is anything from José Andrés really “ordinary”?) Chocolate custard “flan” is piped as a ribbon on a plate garnished with a swirl of rich chocolate sauce and flanked with cocoa crumble-covered brioche ice cream and orange gelatin. Don’t forget the Maldon salt, thyme leaves and Arbequina olive oil for garnish. This is definitely a project for the more ambitious home cook, but the results are perfect when you’re looking for the ultimate show-stopper finish to a meal.
Place the ground chocolate in a large bowl.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk and cream, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and slowly drizzle it into the bowl with the eggs while whisking to warm, or temper, the eggs.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and gently heat until it thickens to form a custard, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Remove from heat again, and pour the custard over the chocolate.
Cover the chocolate bowl with plastic wrap for one minute to retain the heat and to give the custard time to begin melting the chocolate. After a minute, remove the plastic and gently stir the mixture to melt the chocolate into the custard. Continue stirring until the chocolate is emulsified with the custard.
Cover the chocolate custard with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface (this will prevent a skin from forming), and place the custard in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Place the chocolate in a bowl. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring to melt the chocolate and form a sauce. Stir in the water, then transfer to a small squeeze bottle or container, and refrigerate to chill.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, butter and salt, mixing until the mixture resembles a fine meal. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing until the yolk is fully incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a nonstick silicone-sheet-lined baking sheet and top with a second silicone sheet. Roll the dough to a thickness of one-fourth inch. Remove the second sheet and bake until the cookie is completely cooked and dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside until it is cooled to room temperature.
Using your hands, break the cookie into a coarse meal, then sift until you have a fine powder. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Brioche ice cream
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, scald the milk and cream. Whisk in the milk powder and sugar and bring to a simmer (180 degrees). Remove from heat and pour the milk mixture into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation.
Toast the brioche in the oven until dry and lightly colored, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the brioche to the milk mixture. Cover the surface of the milk and brioche with a layer of plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight to steep the brioche with the milk.
After steeping, blend the brioche and milk mixture until it is completely smooth, and strain through a fine strainer.
Take about one-third cup of the milk mixture and warm it in a microwave to around 100 degrees. Add the yeast to the warmed mixture and set aside for 30 minutes to give the yeast time to ferment, then place the mixture back in the microwave and bring to a simmer (185 degrees) to kill the yeast.
Mix the yeast mixture with the rest of the milk mixture and process in an ice cream machine. Cover and freeze the brioche ice cream until ready to serve.
In a small bowl, heat half the juice with the sugar in a microwave until it comes to a boil. Add the softened gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the remaining juice and zest, then strain the mixture into a small container and refrigerate, uncovered, to set overnight.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the sugar and water in a small bowl and microwave until the water is heated and the sugar is dissolved to form a simple syrup.
Place the bread on a silicone-sheet-lined baking sheet and brush each slice with the simple syrup. Bake the bread until golden brown and caramelized.
Cool completely, and carefully store in an airtight container.
Place the chocolate cremoso in a piping bag fitted with a petal tip. Meanwhile, warm the chocolate sauce carefully so it will spread easily.
Squeeze a little of the sauce from the squeeze bottle in an oval pattern on each of 8 plates. Pipe a wavy ribbon of chocolate cremoso on each plate, and spoon a small bit of the orange gelatin to the side.
Scoop a small scoop of ice cream for each serving, and carefully roll each scoop in the chocolate crumble. Place each scoop to the side of the ribbon.
Garnish each serving with a piece of caramelized bread, a sprinkling of Maldon salt, fresh thyme leaves and a few drops of olive oil. Serve immediately.
This recipe calls for a kitchen scale, squeeze bottles, silicon baking sheets (commonly called silpats), piping bags and petal piping tips, which can be found at cooking and baking supply stores. We adapted the recipe slightly when testing for the home kitchen. The original recipe called for glucose syrup in the chocolate sauce; we substituted corn syrup. The recipe also called for glucose powder (18 g), ice cream stabilizer (1 g) and fresh yeast (4 g) in the brioche ice cream; we substituted granulated sugar for the glucose powder, omitted the stabilizer and converted the fresh yeast to use active dry.
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