Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm Thankful For...Pumpkin Flan


There's always so much to be thankful for come each Thanksgiving—family, friends, good health, a roof over my head, a safe and loving environment, never having to go hungry, etc. I'm so blessed to have all these things when there are so many others around the world who struggle to have at least one of these to be thankful for. Things that we might easily take for granted in our every day life.


Thanksgiving was a small, intimate affair spent at my place this year. Which meant that I would only have my tiny stove/oven to create an awesome Thanksgiving meal. It was also another opportunity to cook for my parents, an opportunity I'm always happy to take up, as my way of saying "thank you"—thank you for always loving me, for raising me, for keeping my and my brother's tummies full with delicious, warm meals, for giving me the opportunity to appreciate good food.


Thanksgiving dinner this year started off with a light and refreshing Carrot, Apple and Ginger Soup, to showcase the beautiful local carrots and apples I picked up from the farmer's market. Loved the zing of the ginger.


Rather than turkey, I opted to make cornish hens, spice-rubbed (a mixture of coriander, cumin, fennel, caraway and mustard seeds, and dried chilli flakes) and served with a marjoram salmoriglio. Sides included mashed sweet potatoes with cilantro, roasted brussels sprouts with wild mushrooms, and roasted baby rainbow carrots.


Dessert came as a request from my mom. I made a pumpkin flan a few years back, which was a huge hit with my parents. So I whipped out the recipe again. It's a wonderful alternative to pumpkin pie, without sacrificing the flavours of the popular Thanksgiving dessert. A beautiful end to a decandent, and thankful, meal!


Pumpkin Flan
Adapted from Mad Hungry
Serves 8

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 sea salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the granulated sugar and water in a small, heavy pot over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and bring to a simmering. When simmering, reduce heat to medium-low and don't touch it. Let simmer until the syrup turns amber in colour, about 8 minutes. Pour the caramel into a 9-inch cake or pie pan and swirl to cover the bottom. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in the pumpkin puree and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, and vanilla. Thoroughly blend the egg mixture into the pumpkin puree.

Set the pan in a large roasting pan and pour the custard over the caramel in the plate. Carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Bake until the custard is set, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, run a knife around the outside edge of the flan and invert it onto a rimmed plate. Cut into wedges or scoop and serve with a dollop of spiced whipped cream, if desired.

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