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Chefs’ Corner: Two Step El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard


El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 N. (at Braun Road), is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a dessert that’s guaranteed to melt any chocolate lover’s heart. Chef Steve Warner’s El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard is a type of flan with the mysterious density of chocolate added.

Warner uses El Rey Chocolate, the Fredericksburg chocolate company that produces world class chocolates. They help make this a treat that would be welcome any time of year.

For more information on Two Step, call 210-688-2686 or visit twosteprestaurant.com.

El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

1/4 chocolate liqueur, divided use
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided use
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups El Rey 58.5 percent dark chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Set out 6 soufflé cups. Pour 1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur into each cup.

Over a low flame, melt 1/2 cup sugar to the hard crack stage. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted sugar into each of the cups.

Over a low flame, bring the heavy cream to a steam. Add the chocolate and the vanilla. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, remaining sugar and remaining chocolate liqueur. Then temper the eggs with the chocolate and egg mixture.

Put the chocolate custard into the soufflé cups. Place the cups into a water bath and bake until the internal temperature of the custards reaches 185. Remove from the water bath, let cool, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, heat a thin knife in boiling water. Run around the edge of each custard. Upend each custard on a plate and serve.

Makes 6 custards.

From Steve Warner, Two Step Restaurant

 

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Orange and Tequila Flan


After removing the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the center of the pod and stir into the milk.

Whenever a recipe calls for orange zest, I look for a good, ripe tangelo. The zest has a more vibrant flavor. The juice does, too. It worked beautifully in this dish.

I modified the following recipe from “The Golden Book of Desserts” to use the directions for making the caramel from “The Joy of Cooking.”

Orange and Tequila Flan

3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split in half
5 large strips orange zest
1 cup sugar, divided use
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup tequila, divided use
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks

Heat the milk, vanilla pod and orange zest in a medium pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat and set aside. let the flavors infuse for 1-2 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Rinse 6 (3/4-cup) ramekins with cold water.

To prepare the caramel, place 3/4 cup of sugar with the water and 2 tablespoons of tequila in a small saucepan over medium heat without stirring. Very gently swirl the pan by the handle until a clear syrup forms. It is important that the syrup clarify before it boils, so slide the pan on and off the burner as necessary. Increase the heat to high and bring the syrup to a rolling boil; cover the pan tightly and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook the syrup until it begins to darken. Gently swirl the pan by the handle once again and cook the syrup until it turns a deep amber. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of tequila and quickly pour the caramel into the ramekins.

Beat the eggs, egg yolks and remaining sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy.

Remove the vanilla bean and orange zest from the infused milk. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod and stir into the milk. Reheat to boiling point. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the custard into the ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a deep baking pan and fill the dish with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the custard has set but is still a little wobbly in the center. Let cool to room temperature. When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and dip into almost boiling water. Turn out onto plates to serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from “The Golden Book of Desserts,” edited by Anne McRae/”The Joy of Cooking,” 1997 edition

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Want to Make Your Own Flan? Give It a Practice Run


Making flan is easy once you get the knack of it.

When a friend from church announced that she was being deployed to Afghanistan, it was time for a dinner to send her off in style. What would Erica want for her last meal with us?

Boil the syrup until it turns a deep amber.

Tex-Mex, she said. And Tex-Mex she got.

Everyone in the group pitched in with a lengthy array of delicious dishes from beef enchiladas and tacos to fresh guacamole and borracho beans. I decided I would make flan, simply because I had never made it before.

I had certainly eaten enough of this caramel-topped custard in my years, but making it was another matter. I experienced a little trepidation about making it, though, because I’ve failed at making caramel and melted sugar candies in the past. It was time to try it again, if only for Erica’s sake.

The first thing I had to do was find a recipe. I turned to the original “Joy of Cooking” and found one of the oddest recipes for flan I’ve ever seen. The dish in the book is actually called Custard Tarts or Flan with Fruit, and the recipe reads: “Fill Prebaked Tart Shells … with: 1/2-inch layer of Baked Custard. Top the custard with: Strawberries or other berries, cooked, drained apples, drained cherries, peaches, bananas, pineapple or coconut.”

Not a help. And certainly not the flan I remembered that was an egg-rich custard topped with a silky caramel that ran down the sides and flooded the plate.

I thumbed through a number of other cookbooks that were unfortunately no help. “Make a caramel …” would be the full extent of directions offered. Mexican chef Rick Bayless was no help. His new cookbook, “Fiesta at Rick’s,” features a flan recipe, yet it is far from traditional. Instead of caramel, the coffee-flavored “Café de Olla” Flan calls for pre-

Spread the caramel quickly before it solidifies.

made cajeta. Bayless’ introduction offered no comfort, either: “This recipe is an unorthodox approach to flan, since the caramelized sugar — a kitchen terrorist if ever I have seen one — is replaced by store-bought cajeta (goat milk caramel) and the custards are baked in flexible silicone muffin molds for easy removal.”

“A kitchen terrorist”? Oy, what had I gotten myself into?

So, I pulled out the 1997 edition of “The Joy of Cooking.” If you are a cookbook foodie, you know this is the much-maligned edition of the otherwise beloved cookbook, the version that was deemed too hoity-toity for the general populace. Yet the description of how to make a traditional flan, or crème caramel, as the French call it, was written in plain English.

To make the caramel, you had to pay attention. Watch the pot of water and sugar boil, and you’ll do fine, the authors seemed to be saying. So, I gave it a shot. I made sure I had all my ramekins ready and handy before I filled a small saucepan with 3/4 cup sugar and topped it with 1/4 cup water. I didn’t stir the pot but swirled it as it cooked over medium heat. Eventually, the mixture cleared, just as the book said it would.

So far so good. I raised the temperature and brought the mixture to a boil, then covered it for what seemed like an eternal 2 minutes. Any moment, the syrup would boil over, I feared, because the lid was making an angry racket. Then I uncovered it and continued to watch it boil. And watch it and watch it. I swirled it regularly to make the time pass. After a few minutes, the mixture started to get somewhat darker. No matter how long you’ve been watching the syrup, do not let your attention wander at this point. Watch it closely as it gets darker and darker in a matter of seconds. When it’s the color of a fine bourbon, it’s time to remove it from the heat.

Some of the egg custard has spilled into the water bath, but it doesn't matter.

I was so excited to see the syrup turn dark that I almost let it go a little longer on the heat than it should. Get it too dark and you’ll burn the sugar and the caramel will solidify in the bottom of your pan.

Be ready to work quickly at this point. Grab a ramekin and swirl a little in the bottom and slightly up the sides. The book said to get it halfway up the sides, but I wasn’t fast enough for that. The caramel had solidified in seconds, and I had more dishes to coat. So, I divided the lot equally among the dishes and let them set.

At this point, it’s time to make the egg custard, which seems easy in comparison. Yet it is also easy to mess up, if you are not careful. Don’t let your milk get so hot that it cooks the eggs before you bake them in the oven. Use one hand to pour the milk into the egg mixture slowly while whisking constantly with the other. Divide the egg mixture among the caramel-lined ramekins, then place the dishes into a large pan and fill halfway with boiling water. Place the pan carefully in the oven to bake.

I somehow jostled the tray as I was sliding it into the oven and the egg mixture spilled over the sides. It baked to the outside of the ramekins, but it was no great problem, because your guests won’t see the ramekins anyway.

The stress of making the caramel had made me somewhat anxious. My thought was, is all this worth it? Do I really need to do all that?

Though the flans look great just out of the oven, let them chill before eating.

After 50 minutes or so, the custards looked good enough to eat. But I couldn’t. The recipe said to let them chill first.

Plus, my work wasn’t done. I had another recipe to make because of how many would be at the dinner. For the second batch, I decided to try the Orange and Tequila Flan from “The Golden Book of Desserts.” The description of how to make the caramel was a little too basic, so I used the knowledge I had gained from the first recipe and put it to work.

This time there were no problems, no kitchen terrors. The procedure went flawlessly, even though the recipe was a little more involved. Having made the first batch, the second seemed positively easy.

Inverting the flans proved to be simple, too. Thanks to the help of a friend, a knife and a pot of almost boiling water, each serving came out beautifully with that caramel bath covering each plate.

Best of all, Erica seemed to enjoy it. I’ll have to make it again when she comes back in six months. God keep her safe.

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In Spanish or French, Flan Is Always Welcome


Let the flan chill before inverting onto a plate.

“Flan is the pre-eminent dessert of Spain and Latin America, and it is also a favorite in France, where it is known as crème renversée au caramel or, popularly, crème caramel,” write the authors of the 1997 edition of “The Joy of Cooking.”

“Flan is a stiff egg custard baked in a mold with caramel at its bottom. It is turned out of its baking dish and served upside down. The caramel, which melts during baking, forms a lovely syrup that soaks the bottom of the custard and runs down onto the plate. Be aware that the baked custards must chill thoroughly.”

Flan (Crème Caramel)

1/2 cups sugar, divided use
1/4 cup water
5 large eggs or 4 large eggs and 3 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole or low-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Make sure the syrup is clear before bringing to a boil.

Place 3/4 cup sugar in a small, heavy saucepan. Drizzle water even over the top. Place the pan over medium heat and, without stirring, very gently swirl the pan by the handle until a clear syrup forms. It is important that the syrup clarify before it boils, so slide the pan on and off the burner as necessary. Increase the heat to high and bring the syrup to a rolling boil; cover the pan tightly and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook the syrup until it begins to darken. Gently swirl the pan by the handle once again and cook the syrup until it turns a deep amber. Quickly pour the caramel into eight (6-ounce) custard cups or ramekins or a 2- to 2 1/2-quart soufflé dish. Using a potholder, immediately tilt the cups or dish to spread the caramel over the bottom and halfway up the sides.

Whisk the eggs, 3/4 cup sugar and salt until blended.

Heat the milk until just steaming. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved. If you wish, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or large measure with a pouring lip. Stir in vanilla. Pour into the caramel-lined cups or dish. Place ramekins or dish in a larger dish and fill half-way up with boiling water. Bake until firmly set in the center, about 40-60 minutes for individual cups, 60 to 90 minutes for a single dish. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

To unmold, dip the cups or dish briefly in hot water, loosen the edges with a knife and invert onto individual plates or a large plate. The plate for a large flan must be either broad or deep to catch all the caramel.

Makes 8 servings.

From “The Joy of Cooking,” 1997 edition

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