Pumpkin Bourbon Flan with Pistachio and Thyme Praline

Usually I am a custard purest.

My favorite dessert?  Creme brûlée.  But don’t you dare serve me a chocolate, caramel or dare I say banana version of this delictable dish.  Just give it to me straight with some fresh berries on top, sugar properly caramelized, and I am in the highest heaven.

Now why am I posting a recipe for a spin-off of a traditional flan, another custard based dessert?  I just wanted to have fun.  Fun, you say? Yep.  Some people like to go to a movie for entertainment.  Some find it most amusing to go bowling with friends or some other activity that involves beer and socialization.  While I enjoy those things, my idea of a good time is to look in the fridge, see what ingredients I have to work with –oh, there is some frozen pumpkin leftover from our farm share–, and come up with something crazy –hmm, pumpkin flan…with bourbon…and praline…pistachio praline…with dry thyme, that sounds good– , and then I make it.  So, this is a product of an afternoon full of fun in the kitchen.  Luckily, it tasted pretty good.

If you like bourbon, and if you  like flan, and you have no anxiety about departing from an ideologically and traditionally prepared custard, chances are, you’ll love this recipe.  So go to town.  Eat it up.  I’ll be sitting in the corner with my plain, vanilla flan, dreaming up some other crazy afternoon of fun that I will later share with all of you.


Pumpkin Bourbon Flan with Pistachio and Thyme Praline

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
2 eggs + 2 yolks
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 cup bourbon whiskey
3/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
3 T salted butter
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.Put an 8″ cake pan inside a large roasting pan and bring a kettle of water to a boil. CARAMEL//Combine ingredients for caramel in a sauce pan and combine Do not stir after this point or your caramel will crystalize. Rather grab a bowl of cold water and pastry brush and brush the edges to keep crystals from forming on the side. Using medium high heat bring to a boil and cook until a gorgeous amber color emerges, continuing to brush the sides of the pan with the wet pastry brush. This will take from 8-13 minutes. You may need to swirl the caramel towards the end to distribute the color evenly. Once the caramel has reached a desirable color, pour it into your cake pan, swirling it around to be sure it is completely coated. {Caution: cooked sugar is much hotter than it looks. Do not touch. Serious burns may occur. Use oven mitts whenever possible}
2. CUSTARD//Combine milk and half the sugar into a sauce pan and with medium heat warm the milk just until it starts to steam and small bubbles form on the edges of the pan. DO NOT BOIL MILK. Boiled milk curdles and will leave an unpleasant texture in your flan.
3. Meanwhile, combine you eggs, yolks, remaining sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
4. This next step we will temper the eggs or make what the French call a liaison. Slowly spoon in your warm milk into the egg mixture one ladleful at a time, being sure to continually whisk the eggs. Once about half the warm milk is in the egg mixture combine the two. This step is important to facilitate correctly because, if added quickly, the warm milk will cook the eggs and you will end up with a bowl full of scrambled eggs. If for some reason there are little pieces of cooked egg left in your custard, use a fine strainer to remove the cooked egg.
5. Mix in vanilla extract, pumpkin puree and bourbon.
6. Pull out rack in oven slightly and put your flan pans on the rack. Pour custard into cake pan. Using the boiling water from the kettle, pour water into the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the cake pan. Slowly and carefully push the oven rack back in. Bake for about 45 minutes. The custard will giggle slightly in the center when it is finished.
7. While the flan is baking make your PRALINE. There are two different pralines pictured above.  The first one, on the flan, I didn’t like ver much.  The second one turned out much better and is the recipe featured here.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Combine all the praline ingredients into a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat and stir vigorously until cloudy and creamy. Pour out onto your parchment paper. Allow to cool and cut into little bits to serve as a garnish with your flan.
7. When your flan has finished baking, take out the cake pan with the custard in it using tongs, leaving the water bath behind. Place on rack to cool. Carefully take hot water bath out of the oven and discard into sink, being very careful not to burn yourself. Allow flan to cool half an hour before putting in the fridge to chill. To unmold, run a knife around the edges and flip onto a plate. Cut a slice, top with the pistachio praline, and devour.

May the dessert menu always have a choice always be a choice that doesn’t make you mad…and takes you to highest heaven.

Creative Commons License
Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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