I am proud of myself for not using canned pumpkin puree this Fall. I recently made my own extremely creamy Winter Luxury pumpkin puree that I used in my made from scratch pumpkin crunch. I also made some heavenly rich Pumpkin Leche Flan, pictured above, and more on that later.
But what about other varieties? Venturing closer to home, we took an afternoon trip to Larry’s Produce in Suisun Valley (Fairfield, CA). This place is amazing. Not only did they have a million varieties of pumpkins they also had a large variety of seasonal produce.
Okay so when I said they had a million varieties of pumpkin obviously I was exaggerating. But they did have a huge selection of pumpkins. However, only a handful of these pumpkins are appropriate for baking. In other words, the texture of these pumpkins will yield a creamy puree. Luckily, they had all of these varieties in one section and so I selected the following: Sugar Pie, Baby Pams, and of course Winter Luxury.
I roasted and puree each of these pumpkins. I am by no means an expert when it comes to pumpkins and can only offer my take on the texture and taste on each of these varieties.
This variety is most commonly used for pumpkin pies and is true to its name. The puree is smooth and tastes almost exactly like the canned stuff. Unfortunately, I did not make any pies with this puree and instead made some pumpkin muffins. I think the flavor gets muted when not the sole star like in a pie. The muffins had only a hint of the pumpkin flavor. The puree can be watery, but because I used it in muffins I didn’t take the time to drain it out. I will have to try the Sugar Pie in a real pie the next time.
Out of the three varieties, the Baby Pams produced a more chunky puree. It did not have the sweetness of the Sugar Pie and Winter Luxury. It was extremely watery and as a result I made some soup with this puree instead of using it in my baking. This is a good variety for “cooking” like soups, curries, or ravioli.
I have to say this is my favorite variety of pumpkin so far! It produces the most creamy puree and has a very distinct flavor. It is almost a very earthy pumpkin flavor. Because of its near flawless puree texture this variety would be good for pies, but awesome for cheesecake, mousse, and flan! Wait did I say flan? YES!
Leche flan, the Filipino version of flan, wasn’t a dessert that I grew up with. It wasn’t until I moved to the Bay Area did I have my first taste of leche flan–AND boy was I missing out! It is unlike the typical flan or creme caramel and much more solid and heavier in texture. And because of its heaviness and richness, best eaten very slowly and in small quantities. Or in large quantities but you will probably feel like running a marathon after to burn off the calories.
I wanted to originally make some cheesecake with the Winter Luxury puree, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for cheesecake. My craving quickly turned to flan–and a pumpkin leche flan given all that puree I made. Leche flan is basically made from a few ingredients: eggs, evaporated milk, condensed milk, sugar, and some citrus.
I was happy to find a recipe specifically for pumpkin leche flan from The Pioneer Woman website. This is an all-around website that provides recipes to photography tips! It’s a site where you can browse through for hours (yes I have done so and will continue to). Ree, a.k.a The Pioneer Woman, you rock!
The recipe for Pumpkin Leche Flan was from a guest contributor/blogger Ivoryhut. Not only does she have amazing photos, but her Filipino recipes are mouth-watering. I have my eye on her Biko recipe that I must try in the near future.
Here is the recipe for Pumpkin Leche Flan that I adapted from The Pioneer Woman by Ivoryhut. I made a few adjustments to the ingredients. I also do not own any individual sized ramekins so I used two 24 oz Corningware round dishes and had a little left over for a smaller round baking dish. Lastly, I uncovered it half way through the baking process because it wasn’t quite “setting” and firming up. After I took off the foil, it firmed up nicely with that slight wiggle. The next time I make this I will eliminate the foil and bake uncovered.
Pumpkin Leche Flan (adapted from The Pioneer Woman by Ivoryhut)
1 c sugar
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 c water
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 c pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks
To make the caramel sauce:
- Have ramekins or baking dishes set near the stove ready.
- In a medium-sized heavy sauce pan, add sugar, lemon juice, light corn syrup, and water. Do not stir.
- Heat over medium-high heat until mixture is dissolved and begins to simmer.
- If sugar crystals form on the side (which it shouldn’t due to the corn syrup) brush the sides with a pastry brush dipped in a little water.
- Occasionally give the mixture a gentle swirl to lightly mix it.
- Watch the caramel sauce closely because it will turn quickly from a light brown to a dark amber. Immediately take it off the heat. Total time from start to finish to make the caramel sauce is from 8-10 minutes.
- Pour caramel into each ramekin/dish enough to thoroughly coat the bottom.
- Set aside to cool and harden.
To make the leche flan:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a roasting pan large enough to hold your ramekins/baking dishes with a kitchen towel or silpat mat.
- Heat some water enough to use as a water bath for baking the flans.
- In a blender or food processor, add a bit of the evaporated milk, condensed milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the 3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks. Gently whisk to break down eggs completely being careful not to create air bubbles.
- Add remaining evaporated milk and mixture from the blender/food processor to the eggs and mix gently–again being careful not the create air bubbles.
- Using another bowl, pour mixture through a strainer or sieve. Repeat 3-4 times for a smooth flan mixture. Again be careful not to create air bubbles.
- Pour flan mixture into ramekins/dishes with the harden caramel. Fill each about 1/2 to 2/3 full.
- Place roasting pan in the oven and position ramekins/baking dishes inside the pan without touching each other.
- Pour hot water into the pan to about halfway up the height of the ramekins/baking dishes.
- Bake flan for about 35-40 minutes or until firm with a slight jiggle in the middle. You can also test by inserting a knife in the center until it comes out clean.
- Remove ramekins/baking dishes from water bath and cool on a cooling rack and then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (at best overnight).
- To serve, run a thin knife around the edges and invert the ramekins onto a serving dish.