Randy Zweiban of Chicago’s Nacional 27 gave us this recipe. He serves it as a part of his Cuban Christmas menu, but it’s great anytime of year.
What to buy: Calabaza is also called West Indian pumpkin and can be found in some specialty produce markets. Canned pumpkin is a fine substitute.
- 1Heat oven to 325°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the calabaza, butter, and spices. Turn onto a baking sheet and cook until the calabaza is fork tender, about 20 minutes.
- 2Purée the calabaza mixture and set aside. (If using the canned pumpkin, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.)
For the flan base:
- 1Whisk the egg yolks and eggs together until frothy; set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, sugar, scraped vanilla beans, vanilla pod and salt and bring to a boil.
- 2Temper by whisking a portion of the cream mixture into the beaten eggs. Add the combined mixture back into the boiled cream and whisk thoroughly.
- 3Add the calabaza mixture and whisk to combine. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve and cool over ice water bath.
For the caramel:
- 1Combine sugar, lemon juice, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepot over medium heat. With a wet pastry brush, wipe down the sides of the saucepan.
- 2Cook the caramel until it achieves an amber color. Remove from heat immediately.
- 1Preheat oven to 300°F. Set a medium pot of water over high heat to boil.
- 2Pour the caramel into 1/2-cup or 1-cup ramekins and immediately pour the caramel out so the cups are lined with caramel.
- 3Let the caramel harden in the ramekins, then fill the ramekins to three-quarters height with the flan.
- 4Create a water bath by putting the ramekins into a glass baking dish and then adding enough of the boiling water to two-thirds height of the ramekins.
- 5Cover the flan and bake until the flan sets (i.e., it will not jiggle), about 45 minutes. Serve in the cups with whipped cream.