The problem with pie in general and pumpkin pie in particular is the crust. I’ll grant that someone, somewhere, makes a good pie crust. By and large, however, pie crust is at best filler, and at worst, indistinguishable from greasy cardboard. The solution? Pumpkin flan: all filling, no crust, with a bonus caramel sauce.
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 5 whole large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
- 1 (15-oz) 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
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook 1 1/2 cups sugar in a dry 12-inch skillet 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. Pour into twelve 6-oz. ramekins, then let harden. To make one large flan, pour caramel into a 2-quart Pyrex dish.
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.
Ladle custard over caramel in ramekins, then bake in a water bath until flan is golden brown on top and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes, or 1 hour 15mins for a single flan. Remove flan(s) from water bath and transfer to a rack to cool. Chill flan, covered, until cold, at least 6 hours.
Run a thin knife between flan and side of ramekin to loosen. Shake dish gently from side to side and, when flan moves freely in dish, invert a dessert plate over dish. Holding dish and platter securely together, quickly invert and turn out flan onto platter. (Caramel will pour out over and around flan.) Serve flan with gingered (or cinnamon) whipped cream.