Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A chance glimpse of a reflection showing my backfield in motion convinced me that the last thing I need this holiday is another piece of pie. This recipe is a compromise - I can enjoy a smooth and spicy custard sans some of the calories associated with a classic pumpkin pie. The flan is simple to do and it's only troublesome aspect is the caramel used to blanket it. If you overcook the caramel the flan will have a bitter taste that no amount of whipped cream can mask. We are looking for a syrup that is the color of dark honey rather than molasses. Unmold the flan just before serving. I know this adds some last minute drama to the meal, but if done too soon the flan will begin to absorb the caramel and you won't get the lovely aspect of caramel pouring out and around the flan. You also want to make sure your serving platter has a rim or well to catch the syrup as it runs. This is simple to do and it's a lovely addition to the holiday table. Enjoy!
2 cups sugar, divided use
1 cup whole milk
12-ounces half-and-half, light cream or evaporated milk
5 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Heat a 2-quart souffle dish or round ceramic casserole in middle of oven.
3) 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. Remove hot dish from oven and immediately pour caramel into it. Using potholders tilt dish to cover bottom and sides. Keep tilting until caramel cools enough to stay in place. Set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
4) Scald milk and cream in a saucepan. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and remaining cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in salt, pumpkin, rum, and spices. Strain milk mixture into pumpkin mixture , beating at low speed until combined.
5) Pour custard over caramel in dish and set in a water bath of 1-inch hot water. Put pan in middle of oven. 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.
6) To unmold flan, dip bottom of dish briefly (20 to 30 seconds) in a warm water bath. Then, 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 and turn onto a serving plate. Cut flan into wedges, spooning some caramel syrup over each portion. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.