We went to El Camino for my birthday (in October) and had an amazingly delicious organic, local, gluten-free meal (as usual) and an amazingly delicious gluten-free dessert (also, as usual) and then something magical happened. I asked the server if she had any idea how to make the amazingly delicious pumpkin flan I’d just eaten and she said, “sure, wanna look at the recipe?”
Of course I did. So I did. And then I made it. And it was AWESOME—so awesome that we’re having it again on Thanksgiving. And I’m sharing it now in case you want to do the same.
(Adapted from “Fresh From Maine: Recipes and Stories from the State’s Best Chefs”)
¾ cup plus 1/3 cup organic sugar, divided
½ cup water
1 1/3 cup skim milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300° and place ramekins in a 9 x 13 deep baking dish.
2. In a small saucepan (ideally, one with a spout), combine ¾ cup sugar and ½ cup water.
3. Bring the sugar and water mixture to a boil and continue to boil until the mixture turns a light amber color.
4. Pour equal amounts of the caramel into the ramekins.
5. Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until well blended.
6. Add milk, cream, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar pumpkin pie spice and vanilla to a medium saucepan. Stir to combine.
7. Bring the mixture to a simmer (but not a boil!) and pour the hot mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly.
8. Transfer the almost-flan mixture to a bowl with a spout. (Hold on! If you have a fine mesh sieve, strain the almost-flan through the sieve on its way into the bowl. We don’t have a fine mesh sieve…)
9. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins.
10. Pour boiling water into the baking dish so that the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish with foil.
11. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center of the flan still has a slight jiggle.
12. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow them to cool a bit before serving (or cool completely before refrigerating).
13. Whip the whipping cream to turn it into whipped cream.
14. To serve, run a knife along the edge of the ramekin. Place an upside-down plate on top of the ramekin and flip, keeping the plate and the ramekin in contact. Gently pull the ramekin straight up off the plate—the flan should remain on the plate like a sand-castle.
15. Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup. (We skipped the maple syrup because we don’t have an appropriate drizzling tool.)