I first became aware of the culinary wizardry of Douglas Rodriguez in 1999. At that time, Douglas was the executive chef and co-owner of Patria, one of New York City’s most fashionable restaurants. Now based in Miami, he continues to produce wonderful dishes, many of which reflect his Cuban heritage. Among them is this luscious pumpkin flan with a gingersnap crust, the perfect dessert for a Thanksgiving dinner with a Cuban twist.
If cooking a fresh calabaza or pumpkin, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Cut the calabaza into pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the calabaza, and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and let the calabaza cool. Peel the pieces and puree the flesh. For an alternative method of caramelizing the mold, see the recipe for Flan de Leche Clásico (Classic Flan).
Make the caramel: Place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar melts and turns a light amber color, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the caramel into a
Make the custard: In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the eggs until pale yellow. Gradually mix in the sugar, and the cinnamon and nutmeg, if using. Add the pureed calabaza, the sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Place the caramel-coated loaf pan in a larger baking pan. Pour the custard into the loaf pan. Pour enough hot water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Place on the middle rack of the oven and
Make the crust: Place the gingersnaps in a food processor and pulse until they turn to fine crumbs. Gradually add the butter and process until well blended. Spread the crumb crust evenly over the top of the cooled flan and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
To serve, run a thin-bladed knife around the edges of the flan. Place a serving platter face down on top of the loaf pan, invert the loaf pan onto the platter, and carefully lift it off. If the flan doesn’t unmold immediately, place a warm, damp towel on top of the loaf pan to warm it slightly before unmolding the flan. Slice the flan and serve.
© 2006 All rights reserved. Published by Abrams Books.