If you like flan, you’ll love this. If you don’t like flan, well, I can’t help you there. It’s flan. Even with pumpkin, it will always be flan.
I found this recipe in a newspaper article about Chuck Williams (anyone ever heard of Williams and Sonoma?). The recipe included an interview with Williams and a few of his favorite recipes. This recipe was featured and knowing that my husband would love me more if I made it for him, I made it that day. And it’s true! He did love me more when I served it to him. He’s sooooooo easy to please. Everyone should have a Brant Wong in their life.
By the way, this flan looks complicated, but that’s the best part. Looks are deceiving! It’s super easy to make! And since it’s fall-themed and beautiful, now is the time to make it!
caramelized pumpkin flan
Adapted from a recipe by Chuck Williams
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup light cream (or half-and-half)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree*
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*If you are using homemade puree, make sure that it is pureed very well! You don’t want stringy bits in your flan! Also, if your pumpkin puree is a bit more wet than canned pumpkin, you may want to remove excess moisture by layering the pumpkin between several sheets of paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 325. Place four 1/2-cup ramekins in a baking pan large enough to hold them without letting them touch.
In a sauce pan over low heat, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 tablespoons water and stir until sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, until liquid is caramel colored and aromatic, about 4-6 minutes. Note that at this point, Williams’ recipe adds the helpful note, “Do not burn.” Of course, by the time it is burnt, it’s too late and you must start over again. Not that I know this from experience. I highly recommend watching this mixture carefully toward the end of the cooking time because the sugars will continue to caramelize a bit even after you remove the pot from the stove.
Working with one ramekin at a time, carefully pour approximately one fourth of the sugar mixture into each ramekin, tilting it to coat the bottom and sides. The sugar mixture will harden instantly, so work quickly and don’t attempt to coat more than one ramekin at a time. Return each cup to the pan.
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until small bubbles appear around the edges. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, orange zest, spices, and salt. Mix well. Blend in the eggs. Slowly add the hot cream, stirring constantly. If you add the hot cream all at once, you could cook your eggs. Scrambled egg flan is not preferred. Stir in the vanilla extract and divide the pumpkin mixture into the four ramekins.
Pour hot water into the pan to reach half way up the sides of the cups. Cover the pan with foil. Bake just until set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove the cups and let them rest on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
At serving time, run a knife around the inside edge of each dish and invert the flan onto a small individual plate, allowing the caramel to drizzle over the top of the flan. Serve.