Pumpkin Flan is a delicious pumpkin-centric dessert that offers a little something different than pumpkin pie – although it isn’t all that different from pie filling when you think about it. The flan is made with a mixture of eggs, pumpkin puree, spices, milk and sweetened condensed milk. The difference between the flan and a pie filling is the proportion of those ingredients. Flan doesn’t have the benefit of a crust to hold it together and it should have a silkier texture than pie. As a result, the flan has a lot more liquid in it and typically uses more eggs. That being said, it is no more difficult to make than a pumpkin pie and is a dessert well worth making if you’re a pumpkin fan.
The flan starts out with caramelized sugar, which coats the bottom of the 9-inch pan that this is baked in. If you’ve only made flan in individual ramekins, don’t be put off by the larger pan size here. A giant flan is no more difficult to make than its smaller counterparts and has a lot of “wow” factor when you go to serve it. You can make the caramel as dark or light as you wish. I always aim for a very dark gold so I get a good caramel flavor without too much burnt sugar.
The filling is mixed up and poured into the pan on top of the hardened caramel layer and then is baked in a waterbath. The filling does not get cooked in any way prior to going into the pan, which is one of the things that makes this recipe so easy. I included cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla in my flan to give it a pumpkin pie flavor, but the pumpkin itself stands out very well in this dessert.
The resulting dish is silky smooth custard with a beautiful spiced pumpkin flavor. The dark caramel that was poured into the pan before baking becomes a sauce when the flan is unmolded and adds a wonderful toasted caramel flavor to the pumpkin. It is very tender, but it isn’t as delicate as it looks, so it is not difficult to slice it up and serve it to pumpkin-loving friends and family.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
15-oz pumpkin puree (1 1/2 cups)
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
14-oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
1 1/2 cups milk, pref. whole
boiling water, for water bath
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to high and cook for 6-8 minutes, until sugar takes on a dark amber color (you can take it darker if you prefer a burnt sugar flavor in your flan).
Pour into an ungreased 9-inch cake pan, turning the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside and allow to harden, about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt and vanilla extract until very smooth. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk and regular milk until all of the ingredients are completely combined. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes to release any air bubbles that may have been incorporated during whisking.
Pour into prepared 9-inch pan. Place pan inside a large roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with boiling water that reaches about 1-inch up the sides of the 9-inch pan.
Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until the flan jiggles only slightly when you gently shake the 9-inch pan. If it looks very wet or liquidy, it needs additional cooking time.
Allow the flan to cool for 30 minutes in the water bath, then remove from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight, before serving.
To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan. Place a large serving platter on top of the pan, then invert the pan and the platter. The flan should slip right out of the pan.