This Thanksgiving, Erik’s sister, Sarah, hosted us in San Francisco, which is weirdly basically halfway between Boston and Anchorage. We got to spend the weekend with Erik’s family, which was lovely, and meant lots of good eating. For Thanksgiving itself, Sarah let Erik and I help out with dessert, which was pumpkin flan and blackberry pie.
Erik is the flan expert in our relationship, so pumpkin flan was an obvious choice as our contribution. It was a team effort, with Sarah and Trevor staying up to take it out of the oven when the time difference finally caught up to me, and it turned out awesome – flavored flans are definitely on my radar now.
Start by making the caramel. In Erik’s method, you do this right in the pan you plan to bake the flan in, but we decided to try the recipe way for this one.
In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water over medium heat, stirring frequently until it begins to bubble. Then, cook without stirring until the caramel is amber colored, about 12 to 15 minutes.
I don’t have pictures of this because making caramel scares me, but once you have it ready, pour it quickly into the pan you plan to cook it in (we used a 9 cake pan) and rotate to coat the bottom. It will harden fast, so working fast is key.
Next, combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar, cinnamon stick and half-and-half in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks to beat well. Whisk in the vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pumpkin purée.
Add to the cream mixture and mix well. Strain through a mesh sieve over the caramel.
Put the pan inside a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water about halfway up the sides of the flan pan, creating a water bath. Cover just the flan pan with tin foil, and put the whole thing in the oven at 350°F.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes, until the middle is set. This is where I went to bed and Sarah finished the process (thanks, Sarah!).
Allow to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating until completely cool.
When ready to serve, run a knife around the outside of the pan and turn onto a serving patter with enough of a lip to catch any pooling caramel (we used a tart pan).
Slice into wedges and serve! This was a great light dessert after a heavy meal, and if you aren’t making chocolate trifle for Christmas, would definitely work well then, too.
Here’s a gratuitous picture of the pie we made, too, which Erik braided the crust of:
Anyways, hope you all had as wonderful of a Thanksgiving as I did! I’m definitely thankful for whoever is out there reading this, giving me an excuse to bake every week.
- 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 3/4 cup sugar and water and stir constantly until it starts to bubble.
- Continue to cook, without stirring, for 12 to 15 minutes, until it turns amber in color.
- Working quickly, pour the caramel into a 9 inch pie pan and turn to coat the bottom.
- In a new saucepan, combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar, cinnamon stick, and half-and-half over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks until well-beaten. Whisk in vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pumpkin purée until smooth.
- Whisk pumpkin mixture into cream mixture. Strain through a mesh sieve over the caramel in the pie pan, pressing the mixture in the sieve with a spatula to get as much through as possible.
- Cover pie pan with tin foil. Place in a larger baking dish and fill larger dish with water about halfway up pie pan.
- Bake the whole thing at 350°F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 45 to 60 minutes, until the middle is set.
- Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Cover flan and chill until ready to serve.
- To serve, run a knife around the outside of the pie pan and turn onto a platter.