Salted Caramel Pumpkin Flan

yield: 8 (4-ounce) ramekins
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Special Equipment

  • eight 4-ounce heatproof ramekins
  • a handheld immersion blender (or regular freestanding blender)

Ingredients

For the Salted Caramel

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon J.Q. Dickinson salt, or other coarse or flaky sea salt

For the Pumpkin Flan

  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon J.Q. Dickinson salt, or other coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Salted Caramel

  • Divide 1/3 cup granulated sugar between 8 heatproof ramekins by sprinkling 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar evenly over the bottom of each ramekin. Top the sugar off with a generous pinch of coarse or flaky sea salt.
  • Place one ramekin on your smallest burner over its highest heat to melt the sugar; the sugar will start to turn brown within a minute or so. Use a small, heatproof rubber spatula (I have this mini spatula and love it) to push the granulated sugar around until it starts to melt and turn the sugar completely into liquid. The longer you cook the sugar, the darker its caramel flavor will be — but remember that it will continue to cook even after you remove it from the heat source, to be sure to remove it from the heat earlier rather than later. Turn off the burner, and swirl the ramekin to cover its bottom completely with caramel — but BE CAREFUL! The ramekin will be extremely hot at this point. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Repeat process for the other ramekins.

For the Pumpkin Flan

  • Preheat the oven to 350 (F).
  • In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon J.Q. Dickinson salt until thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in 1 cup pumpkin puree until the mixture is a uniform caramel color.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 5 large eggs, at room temperature and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract until fully incorporated and a pale yellow color. Pour into the pumpkin mixture (from the 2nd step) and use a handheld immersion blender to thoroughly blend the two mixtures together (if you're using a freestanding blender, you can just combine the two mixtures into the blender jug and blend on medium-high speed) until emulsified into a custard.
  • Divide the custard evenly between the caramel-lined ramekins. Transfer the ramekins to 2 baking pans big enough to hold 4 ramekins each without the ramekins having to touch one another. Carefully pour enough hot tap water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of each ramekin. Transfer carefully into the preheated oven to bake until the custard is set, around 30 minutes. When the custards are done, the center should be a little bit jiggly but the edges should be set (see baker's notes). Transfer to wire racks to allow to cool to room temperature, before covering each ramekin with plastic wrap and allowing to cool and chill in the refrigeration for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • When you're ready to serve the flans, run a butter knife or an offset spatula around the outside edge of the flan and invert it onto a rimmed plate. Serve immediately.