Silky butternut squash flan, a new treat for Thanksgiving
As an authentic Latina, when I feel like having a dessert, I prefer a Flan vs. the traditional American Pie. Since I was a little child, in my grandmother's house the traditional "flan de vainilla o queso" would never go missing and they would always be accompanied by some other traditional Puertorrican desserts like the "tembleque", the "arroz con dulce" or the "queso fresco con dulce de guayaba".
I still remember the day I tasted my first "quesillo" in Caracas, Venezuela. "Quesillo" is what they call their version of the flan. I was only 15-years-old at the time and once I got home, the first thing I did was prepare a "quesillo de naranja" which is still one of the favorite dishes in my kitchen.
When preparing a flan or "quesillo" there are many flavor options to choose from. It's very easy and once you learn to make the basic one, you can change the flavor by simply making a substitution like swapping coconut milk for milk or adding mashed corn, guava paste, almonds, liquor, coffee, or chocolate in the milk.
Knowing that the Holiday season is around the corner, what could be better than giving the traditional flan a touch of autumn by using fresh pumpkin. It's my family and friends' favorite flan recipe and I hope it becomes yours too.
My flan secrets are a family heirloom handed down to me from my aunt and grandmother ever since I started cooking as a child. The secret lies in making a delicate caramel to compliment the flan's main ingredient without masking it, not using too many eggs, and obviously using fresh pumpkin instead of a canned product will always give it a very special touch.
In case you are not familiar with the butternut or winter squash, also known in the Caribbean and some Latin-American countries as "auyama o calabaza dulce", it's much sweeter and delicate than the common pumpkin we used to prepare "buñuelos" in Mexico, pies in the US, or bean stew in Puerto Rico. And that's why it's perfect in any dessert, salad, pasta, bread, and of course flan. Enjoy it!
Butternut Squash & Vanilla Flan
1 can of condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk
1 3/4 cups of butternut squash (peeled, boiled and mashed)
1 cup of cane sugar (for the caramel)
1/4 tsp of vanilla
1. Pre heat oven at 350° F.
2. In a deep container, whisk the 4 eggs well. Add the milks and mix well.
3. Then add the squash, drained and mashed. Set the mixture aside.
4. Now, pay attention because you are making the caramelo. In a small pan at medium temperature you will add the sugar and 4-5 drops of lemon juice. Then add 4-5 drops of water and start stirring until it is completely melted with barely any grains and gets a dark golden brown color...not burned, only dark golden so it doesn't alter the flavor (approx. 8 minutes).
5. Then pour it on the baking container making sure it spreads covering the bottom and part of the sides. Once the caramel dries, add the flan mixture into the container.
6. Now it's ready to go into the oven in "baño de maría" or double boiler by placing it inside a larger container with enough water to cover at least ¾ parts of the outside of the flan container. Let it cook for about 45 minutes at 350°-360° or until you insert a knife and it comes out clean.
Once it cools down, refrigerate to chill completely. Then, separate from mold running a knife or thin spatula around the rim of the flan. Then flip over onto a plate and then it's ready to eat! You can garnish it with whipped cream, whipped goat cheese cream and toasted pumpkin seeds to give it an even more chic touch.
Doreen Colondres is a leading figure in today's "cocina latina" movement. Creator of The Kitchen Doesn't Bite, Fox Network Utilísima's Celebrity Chef, Siempre Mujer Food Editor, food lover and tireless traveler. Passionate about teaching people to cook authentic Hispanic food using fresh ingredients. She is determined to revolutionize the way people approach Hispanic food.