Pumpkin Flan: The perfect ending to any of Fall’s festive meals

Pumpkin Flan

Like many others, I am a sucker for the spices that accompany this time of year, and appreciate the warmth they bring to any dish. But pumpkin pie, in particular, with its creamy pumpkin custard speckled with warm cinnamon and nutmeg, encased in a flaky crust and dolloped with fresh whipped cream? Well, that is a can’t-miss dish for me, and I can’t imagine ending a festive fall meal without it. It’s no wonder that for generations, pumpkin pie has been the go-to dessert for American families.

That’s all about to change.

Several years ago, during one of our many get-togethers, my mom pulled a fast one on the family, and replaced our much beloved pumpkin pie with the less traditional pumpkin flan. And while there were many skeptics in the bunch (myself included), once they had a single taste of the creamy, rich flavor and burst of spice from a little orange-tinged bite of the pumpkin flan, there was simply no going back. The verdict was in. We had a new fall dessert! Since then, serious jeers abound if we get together in the fall, and there is no pumpkin flan in sight.

As featured on MyJewishLearning.com

A slice of the creamy pumpkin flan.

A slice of the creamy pumpkin flan.

I understand that flan, in general, is a polarizing dish. Trust me, I’ve tasted my fair share of egg-y, rock solid, just plain bad flan. But if you’ve never tried Cuban-style flan, you’re doing yourself a disservice, as its thick, creamy custard with sweet caramel sauce oozing down the sides, is more akin to a crust-less cheesecake than anything else. And when you combine that with the distinct flavors of fall that can only be found in a pumpkin pie, what results is an undeniably can’t-miss dish. It’s truly a perfect ending to any fall festive meal, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Shabbat, or in this year’s case, even Channukah. Promise.

Pumpkin Flan
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A perfect finish to any of Fall's festive meals.
Ingredients
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ can coconut milk
  • ½ can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbs water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and add your empty pan in the oven to warm.
  2. Mix first seven ingredients (from evaporated milk to salt) in a blender, and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, cook the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar becomes a deep amber color (about 15 minutes).
  4. Working quickly, remove the empty pan from the oven, and pour in the now melted sugar. Swirl the pan around, so the sugar covers the entire bottom of the pan. Pour in the milk and egg mixture over the caramelized sugar.
  5. Insert the now full pan into a larger pan, and fill the larger pan about half-way up with water (a water bath).
  6. Return the flan pan and water bath to the oven, and bake for about 70-80 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove the flan pan from the water bath, and set on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  8. When you are ready to serve the flan, run a knife along the edge of the pan, place a rimmed serving platter over the pan, and invert it. The flan should fall easily, and the caramel sauce will coat the top and run along the sides.
  9. Serve immediately
Notes
I recommend using a 9-inch metal cake pan.

 

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La Reyna del Flan: My Shavuot Offering

Shavuot is just around the corner, and I see my friends frantically scouring the internet, searching for the perfect dairy-based dish to commemorate the arrival of our ancestors to the land of “Milk and Honey,” and the point in history when the Jewish people were said to have received the torah. It’s funny that we have a holiday whose main highlight is all things dairy, considering how many Jewish friends I have who suffer from lactose-intolerance. Sounds like a cruel joke to me, but I digress.
At my family get-togethers, which commonly revolve around holidays and food, there is  usually a healthy dose of competition involved. I’m not talking about the Marc Summers-hosted “Double Dare” variety, with obstacle courses and green slime, although we’ve definitely tried those in the past. These days our competitions revolve around culinary feats and there is one title that has eluded me since I joined the ranks of family cooks: La Reyna del Flan, or The Flan Queen.
Several of the matriarchs in the family have held this title in the past. My mom’s cousin, Virginia, blazed the trail with her traditional, Spanish-style flan, whose custard is so silky smooth and deeply rich, that for years, no one dared to compete. Then, Vilma, Virginia’s sister came up like a dark horse with a flan de coco (or candied coconut flan), whose strands of sweet coconut took the spotlight and threatened all we knew and loved about the traditional egg dessert. Not to be outdone, my very own mother entered the race with a super-sized pumpkin flan big enough to feed an army, or one flan-enthusiast family. But for a long time, the clear shoo-in was always my Tia Pipa, whose bread pudding flan simply could not be touched…until now.
Ladies and gentlemen, this Shavuot, I’m bringing out the big guns, as I believe I have rightfully earned my place in my family’s Cuban flan hall of fame with my latest entry. Sure, I borrowed, begged, and stole the best elements of these matriarch’s versions, but in doing so, I believe I created a flan worthy of the regal title.
When it comes to La Reyna del Flan, it looks like I take the cake…er, flan.
5.0 from 2 reviews
Flan
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cuban
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (*Note: Make sure it is kosher for Passover)
  • a pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbs water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and add your empty pan in the oven to warm.
  2. Mix first six ingredients (from evaporated milk to salt) in a blender, and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, cook the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar becomes a deep amber color (about 15 minutes).
  4. Working quickly, remove the empty pan from the oven, and pour in the now melted sugar. Swirl the pan around, so the sugar covers the entire bottom of the pan. Pour in the milk and egg mixture over the caramelized sugar.
  5. Insert the now full pan into a larger pan, and fill the larger pan about half-way up with water (a water bath).
  6. Return the flan pan and water bath to the oven, and bake for about 70 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove the flan pan from the water bath, and set on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  8. When you are ready to serve the flan, run a knife along the edge of the pan, place a rimmed serving platter over the pan, and invert it. The flan should fall easily, and the caramel sauce will coat the top and run along the sides.
  9. Serve immediately.
Notes
This recipe works best in a 9-inch pan.