This is the second of the two recipes that I was asked to create and of the three that I ultimately decided to create. There were just too many ways for me to use the Carnation Evaporated Milk, and, try as I did, I couldn't narrow it down. I'm really unskilled at the whole narrowing things down competency. It's something that I need to work on. In this case, however, the result was extra dessert--not necessarily a bad thing.
Prior to preparing this recipe, I'd never attempted to make flan. Actually, I'd never even tried flan. Personally, I don't find the word flan to sound that appetizing, and it can't really hold it's own on a menu next to the caramels and brulees of the world. It sounds kind-of blah, no matter what one's approach is to the pronunciation of the "a". Does it rhyme with "plan" or "yawn"? I dunno.
What did intrigue me about flan is that it is essentially a pie without a crust. I've never been much of a pie person mostly because of the crust. There's usually just too much of it, and it's often doughy, crumbly, or, to coin a term from the preceding paragraph, blah. I am much more partial to a flavorful filling, which gives the pie its personality.
For those of you who might miss the presence of a crust, I supplemented the flan with a simple Ginger Spice Cookie, meant to mimic the taste and texture of a gingersnap cookie crust. Eat it separately or crumble it on top. Either way, it serves as a perfect partner to this smooth and spiced, caramel topped flan. Here are a few extra tips for making this fantastic fall-flavored flan (try saying that 10 times fast!):
- Although the recipe says to prepare the flan in one souffle dish, I actually did it in individual creme brulee dishes. In retrospect, these were too shallow (as noted in the photos!), so next time I will opt for deeper individual ramekins.
- If preparing individually-sized flan, the baking time decreases to 35-40 minutes.
- The flan can be prepared one day in advance. Chill it overnight covered loosely with plastic wrap.
- The cookie dough can be prepared 3-4 days in advance and chilled, tightly covered. The baked cookies will keep, covered, at room temperature for 2-3 days, or you can wrap them and freeze them for up to 2 weeks.
- A great use for any leftover cookies would be to turn them into a pie or tart crust. Grind them in a food processor, toss them with a few tablespoons of butter, and press them into a pie/tart pan. Proceed as you would with any other cookie crumb crust.
Pumpkin-Caramel Flan with Ginger Spice Cookies
For the flan
2 cups sugar
1 cup whole milk
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons tequila
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Heat a 2-qt souffle dish on a sheet pan in the middle of the oven.
Place 1 cup of the the sugar in a heavy medium saucepan oven medium low heat. Cook the sugar, stirring with a fork, until it is melted and golden brown. Continue to cook the caramel without stirring, swirling the pan, until the caramel is deep golden, 3-4 minutes. Immediately remove the hot dish from the oven and pour the caramel into the dish, tilting it to cover the bottom and the sides. Set the dish aside.
Scald the whole milk and the evaporated milk in a saucepan; remove from the heat. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs with the remaining cup of sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the salt, pumpkin puree, tequila, and spices. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture while the mixer is running until well combined.
Pour the custard over the caramel in the dish. Set the dish in a hot water bath with the water coming halfway up the sides of the dish. Lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees. Bake the flan until it is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center emerges clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the water and transfer it to a rack to cool. Chill the flan, covered, until very cold, about 6 hours.
Unmold the flan: Run a knife around the flan to loosen the sides. Wiggle the dish from side to side until the flan moves freely in the dish. Carefully invert the flan onto a serving dish. The caramel should pour out over and around it. Cut the flan into wedges and serve with the ginger spice cookies.
For the cookies
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Turbinado Sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the honey.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix at low speed until combined. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer it to a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough into a disk and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour about 1 cup of the turbinado sugar into a shallow dish. Roll the dough into 1-inch (approximately) balls, and roll them in the sugar. Transfer the balls to the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand (or the bottom of a glass.) Working with one sheet at a time, bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until they are golden brown and cracked on top. Repeat baking process with the rest of the dough. Cool completely.