Flan is traditionally a Spanish custard dessert. Give it an update with pumpkin filling and some spice to give your guests a new twist on a holiday classic.
The most difficult part of making flan is the caramel that goes in the bottom of the pan before the custard. Combine the initial water, sugar and corn syrup and cook until mixture turns golden brown. The worst that can happen is that the mixture will crystallize into a sugary mess or burn. Don’t panic, it is just sugar. If this happens, just toss it out and start over again. A few careful steps will help prevent this from happening.
1. After combining the water, sugar and corn syrup stir so there are no dry patches of sugar.
2. Once the sugar mixture comes to a boil do not stir, simply swirl the pan if necessary for even cooking.
3. Keep a pastry brush with some water on hand to wash down the sides of the pan to clear it from any sugar crystals collecting on the sides of the pan.
4. The corn syrup or a bit of lemon juice will help prevent the mixture from crystallizing.
5. Watch the mixture very carefully as it will go from lightly brown to burned in a few seconds. Once it begins to brown, swirl it gently until it becomes a deep amber color. Immediately remove it from the heat and pour into the bottom of the ramekins or pan you are using for your flan.
After making the caramel, the custard is cooked in a water bath to prevent it from overheating and gently cooking the flan into a silky custard. Simply place a baking pan on a sheet pan for easy handling and place the pie plate or ramekins you are using for your flan inside of the baking pan. Fill pie plate/ramekins with custard, then add enough hot water to the baking pan to come 2/3 up the sides. Cover the pan with foil and bake until an area about the size of a quarter still jiggles in the very center of the flan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool still covered with foil until fully set.
Yield 1 10 inch pie plate or 4 large Ramekins
- 2/3 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Corn Syrup
- 2 Whole Eggs
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Nutmeg
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ginger
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- Pinch of Salt
Combine ingredients for caramel and cook until amber in color. Mixture will harden quickly once you take it off the heat so have 4 large ramekins or a pie plate ready to pour caramel into right away. Carefully pour the caramel into the pans. This stuff is known as the napalm of the kitchen because it will stick to skin and cause a nasty burn if you are not careful. If any spills onto your skin, quickly dowse the area with cold water.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add cream, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla and salt to custard mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Divide evenly among ramekins. Bake in water bath covered with foil for 45 minutes to over an hour, depending on the size of your baking dishes. The very center of the flan should be jiggly but it should be mostly set around the edges. Remove pan from oven but allow to cool covered with foil and it should continue to cook until set in the middle without overcooking.
Allow custard to cool completely. Use a knife to gently loosen the edges of the custard and invert onto a serving dish. The caramel should cover the custard like a sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
One last tip, the easiest way to clean the pan you make the caramel in is to fill it with water and bring it to a boil. It will quickly melt the stuck on sugar for easy clean up.