Pumpkin-Orange Flan

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“So many recipes, so little time.” This is the time of year when I begin to feel overwhelmed by all the recipes that appeal to me. In fact, I’m still catching up from last October’s recipe wish-list.

When I had seen a recipe for caramelized orange-pumpkin flan in last year’s October issue of Sunset, I thought I had a winner and put the recipe aside to try. Reading through the recipe, I turned my nose up at some the the ingredients and came up with my own version of a pumpkin-orange flan.

As much as I enjoy using pumpkin in recipes, my interest peaks during the fall, so I try to limit using pumpkin in my cooking and baking to October and November. Once I see the calendar turned to December, the poor pumpkin takes a back seat to Christmas-y ingredients. This flan fits the bill for a beautiful fall dessert, and the pumpkin adds great depth of flavor to the flan recipe I have used for years.

You can see how the flan separates into layers as it bakes, with the caramel on the bottom, the heavier pumpkin custard next, topped by the lightest layer of orange-flavored flan.

My basic flan recipe was adapted from one in Anna Thomas’ The Vegetarian Gourmet and I have used it for years. I spiced up a can of organic pumpkin purée from Trader Joe’s and added lots of orange zest to both the caramel and the custard. It turned out to be a nice way to say “Welcome back!” to pumpkin.

TIP: My mother always used to buy new spices this time of year for fall recipes and I do the same. So if your cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger have been in your pantry for over a year, toss ’em and replace with fresh spices.

Pumpkin-Orange Flan
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Pumpkin and orange crank up the flavor of a traditional flan.
  • 1¾ cups organic cane sugar, divided use
  • zest of 2 navel oranges, divided use
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin purée
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • orange peel curls (optional garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1 cup of the sugar over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar until it has totally melted and is a light brown syrup. Turn off the heat and stir in the zest of 1 of the oranges.
  3. Working carefully and quickly, pour the zest-infused caramel into a soufflé dish. Tilt and turn the dish to coat the bottom and sides with caramel. It will harden quickly. Set aside.
  4. Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan, just until it simmers - small bubbles will appear at the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with remaining ¾ cup sugar. Beat in the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Add the salt and remaining orange zest. Mix well. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring as you pour.
  6. Pour the custard into the caramel-lined dish. Set the dish in a square baking pan and fill the pan halfway up the soufflé dish with hot water.
  7. Bake flan for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the custard comes away clean.
  8. Remove the soufflé dish from the pan of hot water and cool on a rack. Chill in fridge for several hours before turning onto a serving plate. Use a knife to loosen the edges of the flan, if needed. Pour remaining caramel over the flan, garnish with orange peel curls and serve.
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20 Responses to Pumpkin-Orange Flan

  1. Mary Platis October 26, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    This is a beautiful seasonal treat! Custard takes me back to the days my mother would bake this up for morning breakfast-
    Your photography is absolutely stunning!
    Thanks for the memory and recipe.

    • Liz October 26, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      Thanks, Mary, yes, this is basically a pumpkin custard with caramel sauce and orange zest.

  2. Jayne October 26, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    I love this, sounds wonderful! I am pumpkin obsessed at the moment! Seems like you have provided me with another pumpkin recipe to add to my list!

    • Liz October 26, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Pumpkin-obsessed here as well – maybe we should start a club, Jayne.

  3. Lynda - TasteFood October 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Gorgeous! And just in the nick of time for Halloween.

    • Liz October 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Ashamed to say, the whole flan disappeared here in one day – have to make another for H’ween.

  4. Kim October 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Great tip about re-stocking on the spices, Liz. And happy to see that the flan turned out well after all!

    Navels won’t really come into season until winter, so my guess is you could take this dish well into February.


    P.S. The photograph is beautiful!

    • Liz October 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Me too, Kim, and done in one hour exactly.

  5. EA-The Spicy RD October 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    What a delicious idea! With a family of both flan lovers and pumpkin lovers, this is sure to be a hit! Hope you’re enjoying our “summer” weather 🙂

    • Liz October 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks – yes, it is roasting, the typical Santa Ana. Thank goodness it cools at night.

  6. Oui, Chef October 27, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Glad you followed your instincts and re-worked this recipe, it sounds (and looks) fabulous!

    • Liz October 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks, Steve, last year I forgot to add the hot milk – can you imagine?

  7. sippitysup October 27, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Who needs pumpkin pie? This is way better… GREG

    • Liz October 27, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Since I make so-so crust, this IS better than my pumpkin pie…

  8. Averie @ Averie Cooks October 27, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    I never make flan but I love how you tweaked the traditional! I bet the orange just brightens it right up! Sounds great, Liz!

    • Liz October 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      Don’t like custard? I know many folks who balk at the texture, Averie. See you at Vons 😉

  9. Beth (OMG! Yummy) October 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    My son would love this! The color is lovely and I’m sure the pumpkin and orange are just lovely. And thanks for the reminder about the spices – I’m trying to get better about labeling…

    • Liz October 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

      Funny, Beth, but this lesson from my Mom sticks with me and I replace my popular dried spices now – and they are always on sale at my neighborhood grocery store – “buy 2, get 1 free”.

  10. Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought November 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    That is the prettiest flan I have ever seen! I love how the flan separates into layers. Do you think this would work as well with individual souffle dishes?

    • Liz November 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      Sure, I think so, except they would bake at a faster rate. Thanks – the layers caught me by surprise the first time I tried it.

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