Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Flan With Pumpkin Seed Praline

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Through the years, I've come to the realization that if you love pumpkin there is no law that says you must wait 'til Thanksgiving. Things like pumpkin pie, pumpkin flan or pumpkin soup are too good to get thrown into the shuffle of a family holiday.  I much prefer to serve them for a weekend family dinner or dinner party with friends where I can sit down and truly enjoy them.  Later on, I will show you how to integrate this dessert into a fantastic autumn dinner party.

Flans somehow intimidate new cooks.  The idea of the water bath (bain marie) sends people into a tizzy when in reality there is nothing to it.  Get yourself a pair of kitchen gloves, lay the dish in the pan and then fill it with boiling water.  Open the oven door and carefully slide in.  That's it!  Although this recipe calls for a souffle mold, I have always made my flans in an aluminum tube pan.  I find it works best for me but I will leave it up to you.  If you decide to use a tube pan and you have the energy, whip some cream and add it to the center.  A little dash of bourbon won't hurt!

Printable Recipe

yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

active time: 1 hr

total time: 7 3/4 hr


Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 cup whole milk

2 (5-oz) cans evaporated milk (1 1/3 cups)

5 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

15-oz can solid-pack pumpkin (1 3/4 cups)

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Accompaniment:  pumpkin-seed praline*


Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat a 2-quart soufflé dish or round ceramic casserole in middle of oven.

Cook 1 cup sugar in a dry 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork, until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Quickly and carefully remove hot dish from oven and immediately pour caramel into dish, tilting it to cover bottom and sides. (Leave oven on.) Keep tilting as caramel cools and thickens enough to stay in place.

Scald whole milk with evaporated milk in a saucepan and remove from heat. Beat eggs and remaining cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in salt, pumpkin, bourbon, and spices. Pour milk mixture through a sieve into a bowl and beat into pumpkin mixture in a slow stream until combined well.

Pour custard over caramel in dish and set in a water bath of 1 inch hot water. Put pan in middle of oven and lower temperature to 350°F. Bake until golden brown on top and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours, possibly longer. Remove dish from water bath and transfer to a rack to cool. Chill flan, covered, until cold, at least 6 hours.

To unmold flan, run a thin knife around flan to loosen from sides of dish. Wiggle dish from side to side and, when flan moves freely in dish, invert a large serving platter with a lip over dish. Holding dish and platter securely together, quickly invert and turn out flan onto platter. Caramel will pour out over and around it. Cut flan into wedges and serve with caramel spooned over and with shards of praline.

PRALINE


1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds, toasted

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Lightly oil a sheet of tin foil and set oven baking sheet.

Cook sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a deep 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a metal fork, until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Immediately stir in pumpkin seeds and quickly pour onto foil, spreading into a thin sheet before it hardens. (If caramel hardens and is difficult to spread, put in a 400°F oven until warm enough to spread, 1 to 2 minutes.)

Cool praline on baking sheet on a rack until completely hardened, then break into large pieces.

Cook's Note:  Make the day before.  *You can make the praline or skip it.  The flan will be just as good on it's own although the addition of the praline will take it over the top! Pumpkin seeds can be found at Whole Foods or at certain health food stores.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet 1999

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