Flan de Calabaza for Thanksgiving, Better than Pumpkin Pie!

{Featured Content: November 8, 2010}

I’ve found that flan is one of those desserts that people either absolutely relish or absolutely despise. Those of you who love it need no convincing. But those of you who gag at the idea of sticky-sweet caramelized sugar atop a rich eggy custard, I swear that your distaste for flan will vanish with one bite of this recipe. Adding pumpkin puree to an already a creamy Flan Napolitano recipe resulted in this delicious autumnal dessert… better than pumpkin pie (yes, even without a crust).

Flan de Calabaza

This recipe was inspired by Barbara Hansen’s Flan Napolitano. The original recipe is a rich and silky-smooth custard that, unlike most other flan recipes, is not egg yolk heavy. Adding pumpkin and brown sugar to the recipe resulted in what tasted like the offspring of pumpkin pie and custard. For as fancy as it seems flan only requires 20 minutes of preparation, however, it requires that one plan ahead as it takes 2 hours to bake and 6-8 hours to chill. This very rich dessert serves 16-20 people.

1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 pint heavy cream
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup whole milk
4 eggs
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Set a 2-quart round glass dish (9 inches round, 2 inch deep) in a 15 x 10 inch baking dish. Place the sugar  in a heavy bottom pan, turn on heat to medium-high. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until sugar melts and is a dark amber brown. Do not burn. Carefully pour into the round glass dish and IMMEDIATELY and CAREFULLY tilt so that the very hot caramel evenly coats the bottom of the dish. Set aside in the larger baking dish to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Now combine pumpkin, cream, sweetened condensed milk, milk, eggs and spices in a large bowl and mix until well blended. Pour mixture into the round glass dish prepared with caramel. Make sure it doesn’t overflow!* Pour about  2 1/2 cups of water in the larger baking dish so that it reaches about half-way up the flan dish, like so. Take care not to get water in the flan. Lightly cover with foil. Bake for 2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the flan comes out clean.
Allow flan to cool in water dish for an hour. Remove from water and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours or until ready to serve. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and let sit for 30 minutes, run a knife around the inside of the dish to loosen the flan. Place a dessert plate on top of the flan and invert.
…and “invert” of course means that, while holding both plates tightly against each other, you quickly flip the flan onto the presentation plate in one smooth motion.  the first time gabriela told me to “just flip it over” i slowly rotated the two plates thinking the flan would maintain its form while vertical.  it doesn’t.  -au
*You may have extra raw mixture, which you can cook in a non-stick pan on low with a lid on for a yummy crepe-like sneak peek of the flan.
13 Responses to “Flan de Calabaza for Thanksgiving, Better than Pumpkin Pie!”
  1. shayma says:

    the pumpkin puree is a beautiful addition. it’s v tricky to invert a flan- e brava for getting it just right. a lovely recipe.

  2. Katy says:

    This was delicious…I have made it twice already. The first time, I was slightly conscientious of the fact that I need to watch my cholesterol, and I used Half & Half instead of cream, no whole milk, and egg whites…it was still YUMMY! The second time was for a special dinner, and I followed the recipe exactly and it was YUMMY. This recipe has already become a family favorite!

    • gabriellemarielopez says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it and it’s especially nice to hear that the recipe can be altered to be more healthy and still be delicious! Thanks Katy!

  3. Priscilla says:

    I have to admit, I’m not usually a big flan fan, but this was genuinely exceptional. You are such a great cook.

  4. Nicole says:

    Oh, I’m one of those people that isn’t a flan fan, but this looks pretty amazing.

  5. Andrea says:

    Well…..I have made creme brulee and the flan recipes I have looked at seemed do-able but I hadn’t gotten around to trying one yet. When my daughter Alyssa told me about being served this flan by none other than Gabriella HERSELF, and it was fabulous AND I was co-hosting my mother’s 88th B-day party I decided to go for it.
    There were a couple of hitchs I’d like to mention: the first being the melting of the sugar – I didn’t swirl it immediately and it cooled so quickly in the cool baking dish it hardened into and irregular swirl (which I remedied by remelting in the microwave). I would warn other cooks to swirl immediately AND becareful because melted sugar can cause an awful burn 😦
    The next hitch was, the 1 cup of water in my water bath evaporated rather quickly and I ended up having to add water several times whch I think caused two subsequent problems: slightly burnt carmel from being exposed to direct heat in the oven, and I baked my flan for almost 3 hours before it set and even then the center was ever so slightly softer than the outside but it set up with cooling. It WAS delicious with that unique flan consistency. This recipe is a keeper!

  6. gloria says:

    That looks absolutely delicious Gabriela and I for one love flan. This looks so good I can taste it. Glad you are back and thanks for stopping by my DIA post and leaving such a nice comment. I look forward to your posts. Have a great weekend. Mmmmmmm, yum, yum.

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