This flan recipe comes from Margarita Velasco, who left Cuba for America when she was 10. She got it from a relative who for years made it when Ms. Velasco and her family would gather for big American-style Thanksgiving dinners. Ms. Velasco makes it with three kinds of squash: butternut, a cooking pumpkin like a calabaza and canned pumpkin. But it works just as well with a mix of pulp from the squash and the pumpkin, which you can get by cutting them into large chunks, seeding them and then roasting or boiling. In a pinch, you could use canned pumpkin.
- Serves: 10 persons
- 1 ¾cups/350 grams granulated sugar, divided
- 1cinnamon stick
- 2cups/473 milliliters half-and-half
- 4large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
- 1teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see note)
- ⅛teaspoon fine salt
- ½cup/125 grams pumpkin purée (from a speckled hound, calabaza or other cooking pumpkin)
- ½cup/125 grams butternut squash purée (see note)
Step 1Make the caramel: In a heavy saucepan, mix 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. The mixture should look like wet sand. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to make large bubbles. Continue to cook without stirring, rotating the pan regularly, until the caramel is translucent and amber-colored, 12 to 15 minutes. Working quickly, pour caramel into a 2-quart oven-safe glass bowl and rotate the bowl so it coats the sides.
Step 2Make the flan: In another saucepan, combine remaining sugar, cinnamon stick and half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
Step 3Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until well blended. Whisk in vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pumpkin and squash purées. Add cooled cream mixture and whisk well.
Step 4Pour custard mixture through a mesh sieve, stirring and pressing with a spatula. You can do this directly into the bowl with the caramel, or into a separate bowl first, and then pour the strained mixture into the bowl with the caramel.
Step 5Place the bowl with the custard into a larger baking dish and carefully add warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the flan bowl. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes, or until flan is just set in the middle, but still jiggles slightly. (A wider, shallower baking vessel will cook more quickly than a deeper one.)
Step 6Remove flan from water bath and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until completely cool, preferably overnight. To serve, run a knife around the edges of the flan, then put a serving platter on top of the bowl and invert. The flan should slip easily onto the serving platter with the caramel sauce pooling nicely around it.