The Best Dessert in the World!

The Best Dessert in the World!

Ok, the best desert in my world. In 2005 Gourmet Magazine (RIP) published this recipe for Pumpkin Flan with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. I’ve made it every year since it then. The dish is a perfect balance of sweet creamy along with spicy salty crunchy. It’s decadent enough, but not really heavy. It’s wheat free and you could probably make it with coconut milk and eliminate the dairy. You can find this recipe on Gourmet’s huge online archive.

This year I made it with a giant Hubbard squash we had bought at a market. The squash is a beautiful blue-green on the outside with a cornucopia kind of shape. Ours was the size of a small child. Too large to cut easily, I just made several steam vents into the surface with a sharp knife and then baked it in a 350 degree oven with water in the bottom of the roasting pan. It took about 2 hours to cook through. After it cooled, we pureed the flesh in the Cuisinart.


For caramel and flan:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 whole large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 (15-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin (1 3/4 cups; not pie filling)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • For spiced pumpkin seeds:

  • 1 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (1/4 pound; not toasted)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • Special equipment: a 2-quart soufflé dish or round ceramic casserole dish
  • Preparation

    Make caramel:
 Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Heat soufflé dish in oven while making caramel.

    Cook 1 cup sugar in a dry 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar melts into a deep golden caramel. Wearing oven mitts, remove hot dish from oven and immediately pour caramel into dish, tilting it to cover bottom and side. (Leave oven on.) Keep tilting as caramel cools and thickens enough to coat, then let harden.

    Make flan:
 Bring cream and milk to a bare simmer in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat. Whisk together whole eggs, yolk, and remaining cup sugar in a large bowl until combined well, then whisk in pumpkin, vanilla, spices, and salt until combined well. Add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking.

    Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, scraping with a rubber spatula to force through, and stir to combine well. Pour custard over caramel in dish, then bake in a water bath until flan is golden brown on top and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove dish from water bath and transfer to a rack to cool. Chill flan, covered, until cold, at least 6 hours.

    Make spiced pumpkin seeds while flan chills:
 Toast pumpkin seeds in oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss with salt and cayenne until coated.

    To serve: 
Run a thin knife between flan and side of dish to loosen. Shake dish gently from side to side and, when flan moves freely in dish, invert a large platter with a lip over dish. Holding dish and platter securely together, quickly invert and turn out flan onto platter. (Caramel will pour out over and around flan.) Sprinkle flan with spiced pumpkin seeds just before serving.

    Cooks’ notes:

  • Flan can be chilled 1 day.

  • Spiced pumpkin seeds keep in an airtight container at room temperature, 3 days.
  • Leave Your Comments

    blog comments powered by Disqus

    Cara Frank is an outstanding practitioner. She treated me for fertility issues and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would not have my child were it not for her expertise and dedication.

    She arranged for a practitioner from another group to meet me in the suburbs, so that I could get acupuncture immediately before and after my embryo transfer, since it was scheduled when she was seeing patients in the city. When our embryo wasn’t growing well, my fertility doc said the pregnancy was “unlikely to be successful”, and there was nothing else that Western Medicine had to offer, Cara’s acupuncture and herbs literally saved his life. I know it sounds crazy but, as a physician and fertility patient, I was far too familiar with how these situations usually end up.

    Along the way, she has also treated my migraines, diagnosed my hypothyroidism, and kept my blood pressure in a safe range. Her emphasis on the important connection of diet and healthy, as well as her knowledge of food, are exceptional and significantly contribute to the unique and unparalleled experience of being in her care.

    Erin S.