Saturday, November 28, 2009

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie: Ginger Spiced Shortbread and Pumpkin Flan

As much as I wanted to post this before Thanksgiving I was too busy cooking to write about cooking! So please accept my apologies for being tardy.

The great thing about these recipes are that you can make them any time. And in the case of the flan you can make them all winter long as it is the season of squash/sweet potato, at least here in the north eastern United States.

The lovely thing about the pumpkin flan is that it's butterscotch pudding quality isn't over powered by the pumpkin, the pumpkin adds depth, but doesn't overwhelm.

This is a good dessert for those who are not big pumpkin fans. Depending on what kind of squash you use will depend on how strongly flavored it will be. Sweet potato and blue hubbard are both variations I'd like to try.

Ginger Spice Shortbread

Both the flan and the shortbread should be made a day in advance. The shortbread is much better the day after although in a pinch can be made same day. The recipe is the same as the ginger shortbread posted here (it was used as a base for gooseberries) except for this variation add: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Do this at the same time as you add the fresh ginger to the butter.

Pressed the dough into a 9" round pan and before baking cut it into 16 pie shaped pieces.
Use a fork to make a spiral design buy making fork imprints in the dough

Sprinkling 1 T of sugar over the top and baked it at 375 F for 20 minutes or until edges have just started to brown. I like it when the shortbread is still a little soft.

Pumpkin Flan

Preheat oven to 325 F

In a skillet add 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of water cook over moderate heat until the sugar has melted and turned a deep golden brown.

(As a side note I find it confusing that this is often referred to as caramel because to my taste buds it tastes like what I would refer to as burnt sugar, caramel to me has salt, butter and cream in it. I mention this only because I find it helpful to clarify terminology. Sometimes I think I've done something wrong because my understanding of the direction is different. In this instance the burnt sugar flavor is mellowed by the creamy sweetness of the baked custard. The cooked sugar bottom melds and mellows when it is baked creating a wonderful, spicy butterscotch flavor).

The minute the sugar has melted before it starts to smoke pour it into the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan (Emile Henry is my favorite, but Pyrex would work just fine) coating the bottom of the pan with the caramel.

Set aside while you make the flan.

(I think cheese pumpkin is best for baking, feel free of course to use whatever is on hand, the only pumpkin I would warn against is the traditional one used for Halloween, otherwise use any kind of eating squash or sweet potato you can find).

Place 1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh is best but can works in a pinch) in a food processor with 1 T of fresh ginger, 2/3 cups light brown sugar well packed, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 T dark rum*, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and process until completely combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a bowl and whisk in 4 large eggs and 1 cup heavy cream until well combined. Sieve the mixture into the caramel coated loaf pan.

Place the loaf pan in a larger baking dish (I used a 9 x 13 baking tin) and fill with boiling water until it comes half way up the outside of the loaf tin. Place in oven and cook for about an hour and 15 minutes or until the flan feels firm when touched.

Cool to room temp then cover and refrigerate over night or for several nights.

To serve run a knife around the edges a few times, place your serving dish on top of the loaf tin and without hesitation flip it over. Make sure whatever dish you use has a lip on at as the caramel liquefies and makes a lovely, if runny sauce.

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