Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Flan with Orange Caramel

With pumpkin season most definitely upon us, it’s hard not to let our thoughts drift directly to pumpkin pie, that all-American staple of the holidays. It’s impossible not to think about the months of October or November without thinking about all the glories of pumpkin and spice cradled in a crisp buttery pie crust. Holiday neurons are firing throughout the land.

Before we get into the thick of November, I’ve strayed off the beaten path just a tiny bit to produce a Pumpkin Flan. This is still a custard, so I haven’t gotten too crazy. It’s a very rich and spicy flan bathed in a caramel infused with an acidic note of fresh orange juice.

This is best served with a nice dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream, which gives it a bit of a creamy cheesecake twang. I also like garnishing it with pecans toasted in a butter and brown sugar glaze doused with cinnamon, chile and chipotle powders and salt. Or serve alongside some crisp ginger cookies or little pastry twists made from a some pie dough that has been sugared, dusted with cinnamon and cut into strips and twisted.

There’s a bit of planning ahead required for this dessert. The baked flans rest overnight in the refrigerator to give the sugar in the caramel sauce a chance to liquefy, making them a breeze to unmold.

The unmistakable taste of pumpkin is a sense memory of celebration we get to experience every single year and for that I give thanks. It's definitely time to fill your kitchen with the aromas and flavorful harvests of fall.

Bench notes:
- This is a very creamy and very loose flan. If you prefer one with a firmer texture, add another egg yolk. Keep your eye on the baking time.
- Be sure you have all the ingredients for the caramel prepared and measured out because you’ll need to work fast once it turns the right color. I strained out the orange zest for the sake of the photos but you can leave it in for extra flavor if you wish. Be careful when you’re making the caramel and swirling it in the ramekins to avoid splashing it and burning yourself.
- The brown sugar adds a little butterscotch sensation to the flan. You can use white sugar if you prefer or a mix of the two.
- Sometimes using a large roasting pan for a water bath can feel a little unwieldy. I use two smaller pans and fit 3 ramekins in each. This makes it a lot easier to remove from the oven.
- This is a good time of the year to replenish your spices, brandy, rum, liqueurs, dried fruit and nuts. Be prepared for lots of fall and holiday baking!
- If you love pumpkin, you might also enjoy Pumpkin Gingerbread Ice Cream.

Pumpkin Flan with Orange Caramel

Serves 6

Orange Caramel

1 C sugar
1/4 C water
1/4 C + 2 T fresh orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1 t Grand Marnier
pinch of salt

Pumpkin Flan

3/4 C dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t allspice
pinch cloves
pinch nutmeg, freshly ground
1/4 t salt
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 C pumpkin
1 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
1 t vanilla
1 T rum

Set out six 3 1/2” or 4 1/2” diameter ramekins in a large roasting pan or baking dish.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

For the Orange Caramel, place the sugar and water in a saucepan on medium high heat. Cook the caramel until it is a medium dark amber. Take off the heat and wait a few seconds until it darkens a bit more on its own and starts to show some reddish tones. Set the pan down and carefully add the orange juice and zest. It will sputter vigorously. Let the caramel calm down and put back on low heat to melt any lumps, whisking gently. Once the sugar has smoothed out, take off the heat and add the Grand Marnier and a pinch of salt. Strain out orange zest if you prefer. Pour into the 6 ramekins to coat the bottom and swirl gently to coat the sides. The caramel does not have to go up the sides of the ramekin more than a just about a half inch.

For the custard, mix the sugar, spices and salt together. Whisk the eggs until thoroughly combined. Stir in the pumpkin and the sugar mixture. Gradually add the cream and milk. Stir in the vanilla and rum. Pour into the ramekins.

Slowly pour very hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches about half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the edges are set and there is a bit of a jiggle in the middle about the size of a quarter. Gently remove from the oven. Take the ramekins out of the roasting pan and set aside to cool. Refrigerate overnight to ensure that the caramel stays liquefied.

To serve, run a thin bladed knife around the circumference of the ramekin. Place a plate over the ramekin and invert. Dollop with crème fraiche or sour cream.


Victoria said...

Oh, you are such a good one!

This looks so scrumptious and is made with ingredients I can get so easily in NY this time of year. My farmstand upstate is awash in beautiful pumpkins.

Thank you for this beautiful recipe in time to grace our Thanksgiving tables!

pastry studio said...

Hey, Victoria! You are my Fall and Winter buddy! All the lovely colors of the season are among us and I bet your farmstand in upstate NY is really gorgeous right now.

I haven't tried this with fresh pumpkin because I've been so busy lately but I'm sure it would be delicious. Just be sure to reduce the moisture.

Nicole McKenzie said...

I love the sound of this recipe, and your photos are absolutely stunning!

If I wanted to make this as one large flan, instead of individual flans, what container would you suggest I use?


pastry studio said...

Thank you, Nicole!

I haven't tested this but I would say that you could use a 2 quart souffle or other ceramic dish. I'm thinking you would also need to add another 2 eggs. It will take extra time to bake. Check it around 1 hour and see. It may take around an hour and 15 minutes but keep checking every 5 minutes. I hope this works out for you!

PetPeeveGirl said...

So beautiful. Anything custard or flan-like is right up my alley.

Diana H said...

This looks like an awesome dessert. I think I'd like to try this. Thanks.

Jennifer said...

This is so lovely and I love the orange caramel sauce!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Absolutely perfect this time of year. Great photos!!!


Bakeolicious said...

What a fantastic seasonal dessert. I love the orange caramel.

I’d love for you to submit one of your beautiful photos, and a link to your post, to my new food photo gallery showcasing beautiful baking.

Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie said...

I've been thinking the last couple days that I'd really like some kind of pumpkin custard, flan or souffle for Thanksgiving without the crust. Really trying to stay away from flour as much as I can.

Okay, okay, maybe I'll serve this with a very thin, crispy gingersnap or something on the side.

This looks perfectly yum and special enough for the holiday without feeling like we "missed out" on the ol' fashioned pie thang. Thank you, thank you.

Sophia said...

Oh, this dish looks fabulous! I love the picture too! If you're interested, you should submit it to Recipe4Living's Tasty Thanksgiving Recipe Contest :)

Julie said...

What a treat to come across your lovely blog. Being somewhat dessert challenged I am thrilled to see so many recipes here that are well written, straightforward yet still beautiful and inspiring. I'm gathering ingredients for the Apricot Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Slices. Thanks!

Bunny said...

Wow, I so want this, I want it immediately.

Tapping Therapy said...

This dish is perfect for the season! I still get the hang of pumpkins and everything orange. Definitely a must try dish!

bed frames said...

I want to thank you for this very wonderful idea of yours! I am so delighted. This really looks so delicious.