This twist on Thanksgiving pumpkin desserts is based on a traditional French Creme Caramel. This recipe is originally from my mother, but I've fiddled with the spices, added rum and so on. I like to bake it in a loaf pan/terrine and serve it in slices, but a classic round creme caramel/flan dish works too. It's very rich, so the whipped cream is optional - served naked, with just its own caramel sauce, is sort of elegant too. —amysarah
around 8 +
1 1/3 cups
Pumpkin puree (I use canned here; fresh is fine, as long as it's very smooth)
In small heavy pan, combine 2/3-cup sugar with ¼ cup water and bring to boil, washing down any sugar crystals clinging to the sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Stir until the sugar completely dissolves, then continue to cook until it's a deep caramel color.
Pour the caramel into a glass loaf pan, tilting until bottom is evenly coated. Set aside to harden.
Beat eggs with remaining 2/3-cup sugar. Beat in pumpkin puree, salt, spices and cream. Stir in the vanilla and rum (if using.) Pour into the pan, on top of the hardened caramel.
Put the pan in a deep baking dish and add enough very hot water to reach half way up sides of the flan. Bake on the oven’s middle rack for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a small sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean, but it’s still a tiny bit wobbly.
Remove flan from water bath and cool on a rack to room temp. Cover well and put in fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
To serve: carefully run a thin knife around edge of pan to separate flan from sides. Invert a serving platter over it (not too shallow – you want to capture all of that caramel sauce.) Carefully flip both together; the flan should slip out easily. If not, give the pan a couple of good whacks with a wooden spoon (cursing and snarling, ‘don’t even think about it!’ helps.) Let the sauce pool over and around it, making sure not a single drop is left behind in the pan.
Serve cut in slices, with some sauce spooned over it. If you like, garnish with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream (plain or with a little vanilla, cinnamon or rum.)