When asked to list my favorite kitchen tools, the pressure cooker always makes the top three, along with my stand mixer and my food processor. I mostly use the pressure cooker for meat and other savory dishes, however. When I opened private chef and blogger Bren Herrera’s cookbook Modern Pressure Cooking, I was elated to see the dessert chapter! Reading through all of the delicious recipes, I stopped in the flan section and honed in on the Decadent Espresso and Toasted Almond Flan. Cooking time? 16 minutes! Of course it has to chill to set up as it would in any case, but compare 16 minutes to the average one hour it takes in the oven, and it’s hard to find an excuse not to try this. —Kristina
Why Bren loves this recipe: It’s no secret flan is my claim to “fame.” It’s the one dessert I fell in love with as a kid, mostly because my Mother didn’t make it often, and when she did, it was rationed between my 4 siblings and our dad. Imagine that! A 1-quart size flan, split up between 7 people! When I discovered I could make my very own flan in a pressure cooker, not just in the oven in bain-marie, I was all in for making endless amounts of flan. This espresso flan, one of my favorites, was an effortless combination and is a simple reflection of two things that I love: my Cuban heritage and espresso. The espresso salt was a finishing touch I used to offer another layer of espresso taste and add a bit more texture. It creates a decadent balance of sweet and salty. The fact that it’s done in just 16 minutes (including pressure release time) makes this truly liquid gold!
Decadent Espresso and Toasted Almond Flan
Serves 6 to 8
A perfect marriage of two of the very things that represent my love of food and culture: espresso and flan. It doesn’t get much better than this. The toasty almonds add great texture and the espresso will subtly keep you energized.
— 4 large eggs, at room temperature
— 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz [425 ml])
— 14 oz (425 ml) whole milk
— 3/4 cup (175 ml) plus 1 tablespoon (180 ml) unsweetened brewed espresso
— 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
— 1 teaspoon (5 ml) almond extract
— 1/2 teaspoon espresso salt
— 1/2 cup (100 g) cane sugar
— 1/2 cup (73 g) toasted almonds, sliced, for garnish
Ground espresso, for garnish
In a medium mixing bowl, stir the eggs, using a wire whisk. Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, followed by the whole milk, 3/4 cup (175 ml) of the brewed espresso, the extracts and the espresso salt. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well-blended, without creating bubbles, about 1 minute. Set aside.
To a round 1-quart (946-ml) aluminum flan mold or pan, add the sugar and the remaining tablespoon (15 ml) of brewed espresso and place on the burner. Turn the heat to high and begin caramelizing the sugar, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-high as soon as it starts to melt, using a wooden spoon or medium silicone spatula, 2 to 5 minutes, until the sugar is completely melted and a beautiful golden Cognac color.
Turn off and remove the mold immediately from the heat. Working fast, coat the entire mold with the melted sugar, rotating it in a controlled circular motion. If you are not experienced in handling extremely hot caramel, leave the mold on your counter and quickly coat with a pastry brush or a small silicone spatula. It is about 330F (165C) at this point. Set aside and let sit until the caramel sets, about 1 minute. Pour the custard mixture into the flan mold or pan, using a medium-mesh hand strainer to collect the egg embryo. This last step here is not entirely necessary.
Add enough water to the cooker to cover the mold halfway. Close the mold or cover your pan with aluminum foil and gently place in the middle of the cooker. Close the lid.
Stovetop: Set to high pressure (15 PSI) and set the timer for 16 minutes. Cook over high heat until the pressure point is reached, about 11 minutes, then turn off the heat but do not remove the cooker from the stove. The residual heat will finish cooking it. Allow the pressure to release on its own for the remaining 5 to 6 minutes.
Electric: Set to high pressure (10-12 PSI) and 16 minutes. When done, cancel cooking. Allow the pressure to release on its own (natural-release).
When all of the pressure is out, open the cooker and gently remove the mold, using silicone gloves. Do not unmold. Chill the flan for at least 5 hours, giving it enough time to set. Remove the flan from the fridge 30 minutes prior to serving. See the note below for tips on unfolding the flan. Garnish with almonds and ground espresso.
Note on Inserting and Removing the Flan Mold: A flan mold, commonly known as a flanera, makes life so much easier when making flan and other round desserts. Having a secure lid allows you to safely and securely place the dessert in the cooker without incident. Taking it out can be another story. I always use thick kitchen towels or my silicone gloves to safely remove anything from the cooker. I’m okay with that. I’d suggest you use the same caution too, if you’re comfortable enough (or tall enough!) to place your covered hands in the hot pressure cooker.
However, if you don’t have super-heat-resistant gloves (up to 500F [260C]) or simply feel better pulling our your flan mold in a less intrusive way, make a makeshift “handle” with aluminum foil. Place the mold over a 12-inch (30.5-cm) piece of aluminum foil. Twist the sides of the foil until you have handles long enough to grip. Use this to lower into or remove from the cooker a flan mold or anything of the like you’re using.
About Bren: Bren Herrera is a Cuban-American award-winning private chef, food and travel writer, recipe developer, TV spokesperson, and owner of BrenHerrera.com, where she pens the culinary blog Flanboyant Eats. She’s been featured on the Today show, CNN, CBS, ABC, FOX, The Discovery Channel and Telemundo, as well as print publications including Glamour magazine and the Washington Post. She lives in Washington, D.C. Find Bren on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.