Deborah Madison's Sweet Potato Flan

April 28, 2014
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Very lightly adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy. Madison recommends moist, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes here, specifically the Jewel or Garnet varieties, which are often labeled as yams. I've substituted maple syrup for her brown sugar or maple sugar (and reduced it very slightly). Also, this is the sort of dessert where the fixins really do make all the difference: the caramel pecans are very simple (and if you have no pecans, I've happily used walnuts instead) and the maple yogurt requires only -- pro tip -- yogurt and maple syrup. —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • The Flan
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sea salt
  • Caramel Pecans and Maple Yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans, broken or whole
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  1. Heat the oven to 325° F. In a blender, combine the sweet potato, spices, maple syrup, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and purée until smooth. Divide the purée among six custard dishes.
  2. Put the custard dishes in a large baking pan and pour hot water into the pan until it reaches at least an inch up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes. The flans should be set and barely quiver when shaken. Let cool.
  3. While the flan is cooling, melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Then add the pecans, sprinkle with sugar, and turn to coat evenly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar coats and caramelizes the nuts. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Chop as finely or coarsely as you want.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and the yogurt. Taste, and add more maple syrup if you want. Serve the flan topped with a spoonful of maple yogurt, garnished with chopped caramel pecans.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • tnevins
  • Ceramic
  • glammie
  • Becky Rice
    Becky Rice
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is nicholasday.net; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

7 Reviews

AntoniaJames December 26, 2014
Excellent recipe. (So easy, too! ) Served it at a special holiday dinner. Everyone remarked on how good it was. Will most certainly be making this again. ;o)
tnevins May 25, 2014
I thought this was lovely. I've made it twice and one trick I used the second time improved the texture. I blended everything except the eggs until it was very, very smooth. Then I added 4 lightly beaten eggs, blended on low until it was just combined. This gave the flan a very smooth, fudgey texture (my first batch had a graininess to it). Overall, it vastly improves Monday mornings.
Nicholas D. May 30, 2014
Brilliant. Thanks for sharing!
Ceramic May 21, 2014
made this today. had high hopes because i loved the idea of just being able to throw everything in the blender. but it was just okay. the toasted nuts are absolutely delicious however. i used coconut palm sugar instead of regular but i think they would have come out well with any type of sugar.
glammie May 19, 2014
Making this today. So far so good. I expect I will serve it as dessert rather than b'fast. Hope my 11 yo anti-SP son will eat it .... *crossing fingers*
Becky R. May 12, 2014
I enjoyed this very much. I used the yogurt throughout and for the topping I added a tsp of cinnamon. Thanks!
Yessica May 9, 2014
I grew up eating all sorts of flan-cheese, pumpkin, coconut, vanilla, caramel, even casava(yuca)...never had sweet potato. The use of ginger is an interesting addition. Is it being used say in place of a citrus? I would like to learn why. Thanks!