Spiced Pumpkin Flans

Shannon Minor, executive sous chef, el Cortez

Caramel (can be made ahead of time)

2 c granulated sugar
1 c water
3 oranges, zested and juiced

Place ovenproof 4-oz ramekins in a shallow pan. Using a stainless-steel pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring all ingredients to a boil. Leaving the lid on will prevent crystallization of the caramel.

Once mixture is boiling, lower to a medium heat and cook until amber in colour. Check often as the caramel burns easily.

Once caramel is ready, pour carefully into ramekins, one at a time. Tip ramekins to coat bottom and sides, pouring any excess caramel back into pot. If caramel starts to harden, warm over low heat. Set aside to harden.

Pumpkin Mixture

4 lb fresh sugar pumpkin, peeled and roasted, seeds set aside
¼ c butter
1 sml piece fresh ginger, grated
1 T ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
¼ t ground cloves
pinch salt

Melt butter with ginger and spices, cook until butter is browned. Mix with 2 cups of the roasted pumpkin. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Flan Mixture

1 can 400 mL, coconut milk, cream only (put can in fridge to separate water from cream)
1½ c whipping cream
½ c sugar
vanilla (preferably Mexican)
5 egg yolks
3 whole eggs

Preheat oven to 300°F, with a rack in the middle position.

Heat coconut cream, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla over medium heat, until mixture is at a gentle boil. Whisk to ensure sugar is completely dissolved. Take off heat. Whisk eggs and yolks in a bowl until frothy.

Temper egg mix by whisking in the hot cream mixture, a small ladleful at a time. When egg mix is warm to touch, mix in remaining cream and whisk thoroughly. Combine with pumpkin mixture, stirring until completely combined.

Line a medium-sized strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth, and place in bowl. Carefully pour flan mixture into cheesecloth, gathering the ends and twisting them to push mixture through. Keep twisting until all liquid is forced out. Cool over an ice bath or in the fridge.

Assembly: Once flan mixture is cool, fill caramelized ramekins ¾ full. Carefully pour hot water into shallow pan, until flans are two-thirds submerged. Bake until set (the centres should be firm), 45-60 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Garnish with coconut whipping cream and candied pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Makes 6 flans.