When you roast up a pumpkin, even if it isn’t huge, you end up with a lot of pumpkin. Normally, we just freeze the extra, but this time it was only a couple of cups, so we decided to try our hand at making Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans, a recipe that we found in Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan. As is our wont, we modified it a bit so it would be less troublesome.
When we first read this recipe, we thought that pumpkin and Gorgonzola would go well together. Then, months later when we thought about making it, we thought that a crumble of walnuts on top would really set it off. Of course, when we read the recipe again, it called for walnuts. Huh. They must have been added between readings. While we didn’t think of walnuts first, we did eliminate the need for extra egg yolks (sometimes we get tired of finding uses for the extra whites, or yolks for that matter), making it a bit more kitchen-friendly. We also used evaporated milk instead of heavy cream, because it was what we had on hand. Finally, we did make this in a bain marie, and it does make the flans super soft and moist. If you haven’t used a water bath before, know that it’s a method that’s sometimes necessary, so you might as well start now.
Makes 6 flans
- 16 ounces (1 can) pumpkin
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
- 3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 3 Tbs walnuts, coarsely chopped
- salt and pepper
Eggs, get free-range, if possible. The taste is significantly better. For the pumpkin, we used purée that we made from a whole pumpkin. In this case, canned might be better as it has a stronger pumpkin flavor. Gorgonzola cheese is one of the blue cheeses; if you really can’t stand blue cheese, use the strongest-flavored cheese you can stand. Possibilities would include: Parmesan, Comte, Emmental, or a really sharp Cheddar.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter six 6-ounce custard cups. We didn’t have cups that large so we went with a muffin tin. Even that wasn’t quite large enough, so we had to add in a couple more oven-proof bowls.
Line a roasting pan. Find a roasting pan that will hold the custard cups (or whatever you are using), place several paper towels on the bottom, and place the cups into the pan. This will be your bain marie or water bath.
Boil water. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
Make custard. In the bowl of a food processor, combine pumpkin, milk, and eggs. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour custard into cups. Fill each cup to almost the top with the custard mixture. The flans will puff while they bake, but they won’t spill.
Season. Sprinkle each with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with Gorgonzola crumbles, followed by the walnut pieces.
Place in oven. Place the roasting pan and custard cups on a rack in the oven, then pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the custard cups are halfway submerged. By putting the pan in the oven first, you reduce the chance of hot water sloshing out when you are carrying it.
Bake. Let the flans bake for 35-40 minutes, or until puffed a bit and a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean.
Cool. Remove the roasting pan, water and all, from the oven, and let the flans cool in the water for about 30 minutes, or until just warm.
Serve. Run a sharp knife around the edge, and tip out of the custard cups onto a plate. Or serve them directly in the custard cups.
We have to admit that we liked the idea of these flans better than the execution. While they were good, and the pairing of pumpkin and Gorgonzola is a good one, especially with the walnuts, they are not that much better-tasting than really soft scrambled eggs with the same ingredients. Possibly using canned pumpkin would have been a better choice, but in retrospect, we think that a frittata made with squash pieces, Gorgonzola, and walnuts would have been easier and just as good, if not better, since you could run it under the broiler and brown up the cheese. Therefore, only three stars.