Looking for a fantastic flan recipe to spice up your Thanksgiving dessert table? This delicious pumpkin flan is based on a flan de calabaza that I enjoyed in Valencia, Spain. It’s perfect for the holidays!
Spanish pumpkin recipes are split evenly between sweet and savory. On the savory side, there are creamy pumpkin soups and calabaza asada (grilled pumpkin). And for the sweet tooth, there are light and airy pumpkin donuts (buñuelos de calabaza) and pumpkin-filled pastries.
One of my favorite Spanish pumpkin dessert recipes is pumpkin flan. This dessert is hard to find in Spain and is more common in Valencia, where many regional recipes use the local pumpkin.
This flan recipe is based on one of the most classic and simple Spanish flan recipes and substitutes some of the liquid with pumpkin purée. The result is a creamy and delicious pumpkin flan, enhanced with pumpkin pie spices such as nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon.
This recipe is perfect for a holiday dessert after a classic Spanish lunch, and would gladly be a part of your Thanksgiving spread (if you celebrate!).
Tips & Tricks
- Pumpkin flan is best when made with fresh pumpkin purée, or an excellent quality canned purée
- In Spain, the spices are very mild and would only include a dash of cinnamon or a few cloves. I like to add more traditional North Ameican baking spices to serve this as a Thanksgiving dessert
- You can make this dessert a couple of days ahead of time and keep it well covered in the fridge.
- You’ll need to use a water bath (bain marie/baño maría) to make this flan. It’s really easy and you can read about it here.
If you like this recipe, you won’t want to miss these other holiday favorites!
Pumpkin Flan (Flan de Calabaza)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar for the caramel
- 1/4 cup water for the caramel
- 1.5 cups whole milk
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- Start by mixing the spices into the pumpkin purée.
- Next, make the caramel. Heat the water and granulated sugar in a saucepan (stainless steel works best) over medium heat. Once it starts to bubble and change color, give the pan a shake or a quick stir. Let it cook and turn golden brown, but be careful it doesn't turn dark brown and burn. Once golden brown, quickly pour into a 4.5 cup baking mold (it can be one that is specifically for flan or any baking dish with that capacity).
- Quickly make sure that the caramel coats the bottom and sides of the mold before it hardens.
- To prepare the custard, put the milk, sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla into a saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering. Cook until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is evenly heated.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes, stirring every minute or two. Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C).
- Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl. Making sure that the milk and pumpkin mixture is sufficiently cool (so that it won't scramble the eggs), whisk in this mixture little by little, until all is incorporated.
- Pour the custard mixture over the caramel.
- Place the flan mold/pan into a large baking pan. Boil enough water to fill the baking pan halfway (you have to cook the flan in a water bath). Bake the flan for about one hour in a preheated oven at 325°F (163°C).
- Remove the mold from the pan of water and allow it to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
- When ready to serve the flan, run a knife around the edges of the mold to loosen the flan. Then place the serving dish on top, and quickly flip the flan over. Lift off the mold and the flan should slide right out, covered in a golden caramel sauce.
- Enjoy your pumpkin flan on its own, or with whipped cream.
What do you think? Will pumpkin flan replace the pumpkin pie at your Thanksgiving this year? Or perhaps it’ll just be another option on the dessert table?
How long do you bake it if you use the small individual serving size dishes?