During the holidays, rather than baking traditional pies, I have been making this delicious pumpkin flan with maple caramel. As I am always on the search for gluten-free recipes, I’ve decided this will be my go-to dessert from now on. This recipe differs from traditional flan in that it has an assortment of additional flavors and ingredients. This includes wonderful and aromatic spices, orange zest, and pumpkin that elevate things nicely. It also has the addition of maple syrup that adds just the right amount of extra sweetness. This flan reminds me a great deal of pumpkin pie and makes the perfect substitute at the holiday table. I assure you, you won’t miss the pie crust at all.
I would like to thank the barefoot contessa for this delicious recipe. The rich and creamy texture of the custard combined with the salty sweetness of the maple caramel sauce is a real crowd-pleaser. This dessert would make a wonderful addition to your own holiday get-togethers as it includes all of the festive flavors of pumpkin pie.
For the Caramel:
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Pure Grade A Maple Syrup
1/2 Teaspoon Fleur de Sel
For the Pumpkin Flan:
1 (14-ounce) Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 (12-ounce) Can Evaporated Milk
1 Cup Canned Pumpkin Puree (Not Pie Filling)
1/2 Cup (4 ounces) Italian Mascarpone
4 Extra-Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Maple Extract
2 Teaspoons Grated Orange Zest (2 Oranges)
1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
Getting the Oven Ready
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Making the Caramel
In a small, deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, maple syrup, and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil, swirling the pan to dissolve the sugar. Do not stir. Cook at a low boil for about five to ten minutes without stirring, until the mixture turns a golden brown color and registers 230 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Make sure to watch it carefully, so it doesn’t burn.
Take off of the heat, swirl in the fleur de sel, and pour immediately into an 8 x 2-inch round cake pan. Make sure not to use a springform as the caramel will leak out of the pan. Then set aside to cool for 30 minutes. By the way, for this step, I substituted ordinary sea salt for the fleur de sel. Well, what is fleur de sel anyway? It is a rare and expensive form of sea salt that is harvested in parts of France. The French translation is “flower of the salt.” It can be described as delicate, flaky, and perfect for adding to dishes just before serving them. This salt also comes with a pretty hefty price tag, costing $30 or more per pound. Perhaps, when I strike it rich, I’ll pick up a container of this salt. Until then, I find regular sea salt works just fine for me and this recipe.
Preparing the Flan
In the meantime, place the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, canned pumpkin, and mascarpone in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until smooth. Next, whisk in the eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gently pour the pumpkin mixture into the pan with the caramel. Do this carefully so they don’t combine.
Baking the Flan
Place the cake pan in a roasting pan large enough to hold the cake pan flat and fill the roasting pan with enough really hot tap water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake in the center of the oven for seventy to seventy-five minutes, until the custard is just set. The custard should be firm but still jiggle slightly in the middle. You know it will be ready when you insert a knife into the center and it comes out clean.
Next, remove the flan from the water bath, place it on a cooling rack, and cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least three hours. Make sure not to tilt the pan or the caramel will run out.
To remove the flan from the pan, run a small knife around the edge. Turn a flat serving plate with a slight lip over the cake pan and then flip them, turning the flan out on the plate. The caramel should run over the flan.
Before serving, cut into wedges and serve with the caramel spooned over each slice. You must try this flan with a twist for yourself. I bet you will enjoy this so much, you won’t be able to have just one piece!