My all time favorite holiday next to Chinese New Years is Thanksgiving – both holidays that revolve around traditional foods.
A few members of the family aren’t too fond of pumpkin pie and those that are seem to leave most of the crust on their plate. So I experimented last month for a cooking demo I did at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland and came up with a Sweet Potato Flan. Not quite pumpkin I know but close enough in my book.
Here is a revised version of the recipe I demo’ed last month:
Sweet Potato Flan
1 -2 red-skinned sweet potato/ yam; about 12 ounces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 Â½ cup half and half
4 large eggs
Â¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Â¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grate fresh from a seed for best flavor
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
maple syrup to taste (about Â¼ cup)
Preheat oven to 350Â°F. Pierce sweet potatos with fork; roast until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on width of potato. Cool. The skin should be very loose – peel potato by hand and press into a measuring cup – measure out 1 1/2 cup.
Stir 1/2 cup sugar and the tablespoon of water in small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour caramel into 8-inch-diameter metal cake pan. Using pot holders, swirl cake pan, allowing caramel to coat bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides. If the caramel solidifies before you can coat the entire bottom of the pan then warm it up a bit in the oven. Be careful, the hot caramelized sugar will stick to you like molten lava and leave a nasty burn!
Use a blender (or a deep bowl and stick blender) to puree up the eggs, half and half, sea salt, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Stir in maple syrup to taste (about Â¼ cup). Pour flan mixture into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Put pan on the middle rack of the oven. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake until just set in center, about 1 hour. Remove flan from water. Chill until cold, about 5 hours. You can make this up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Run a sharp pointed knife along the inside edge of the cake pan to loosen the flan. Invert onto rimmed plate, scraping caramel in pan over flan.
If your heart is set on pumpkin go ahead and use pumpkin – either fresh roasted or canned is fine. Other winter squash would be wonderful too – try butternut, hubbard, or kabocha.