This recipe for Cuban Pumpkin Flan (Flan de Calabasa) is based on a classic Cuban recipe that uses fresh pumpkin mixed in a creamy custard.
How to Make Cuban Pumpkin Flan Recipe or Flan de Calabasa
Many years ago my mother-in-law, who has Spanish-Cuban roots, shared with me her version of a Classic Cuban Flan. It is a wonderful mix of rich custard with a deep caramel base. And, believe me when I say this: it is to die for. It’s that delicious.
So that’s where I got my inspiration from to make another classic island favorite recipe: Cuban Pumpkin Flan.
My version starts with the traditional recipe for flan but adds a touch of fresh roasted or canned pumpkin. (See Options #1 and #2 below, respectively.)
Option 1: Bake a Fresh Pumpkin
It’s really easy to bake a pumpkin. It’s as simple as removing the top, scooping out the seeds and baking the pumpkin, top and all on a sided cookie sheet for about 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees F.
The secret to this recipe’s success is to bake the pumpkin the day before you plan on using the roasted pumpkin.
The reason is that pumpkin by it’s very nature has a tendency to be watery right after baking. So by allowing it to chill overnight, you give the pumpkin the opportunity to firm back up and become wonderfully rich and creamy.
Option 2: Use 100% Canned Pumpkin
But what if you don’t want to mess with baking a pumpkin for this recipe? The answer is simple: used 100% canned pumpkin that you can buy at the grocers like Libby’s 100% Pumpkin or Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin.
Make the Caramel
The mainstay of any flan recipe is the caramel topping. This gives the custard a sweet roasted flavor that can’t be beat.
Start with two cups of granulated sugar in a stainless steel frying pan. Here I’m using my 10 inch All Clad frying pan.
Cooking Tip: Do not leave the stove for any reason, because too much heat and the caramel can bubble over. Not good for the stovetop. And, it also smells terrible–trust me.
Swirl fry pan gently as the sugar melts. If it seems as if the sugar is burning, turn the heat down to medium-medium low. Keep swirling until all of the sugar has melted.
Then, pour melted caramel into a baking dish, scrape out the extra caramel with a silicon spatula, and swirl caramel in the dish to coat the sides about 1/3 of the way up. (Note: I used my CorningWare 2.5 quart French White Baking Dish for this recipe.)
Make the Custard
This recipe doesn’t require much pumpkin. It takes 2 cups fresh roasted pumpkin or one 15 ounce can of 100% pumpkin, along with a can of sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces) and a can of evaporated milk (12 ounces).
Then add plenty of fall spice (like cinnamon) to bring out the delicious pumpkin overtones. And, blend away.
Finally, pour the custard batter in the baking dish, place this in the oven, and bake it low and slow in a bain marie (water bath).
You’ll know it’s cooked through when a knife or long toothpick comes out clean. Internal temperature, if you’re using a thermometer should read approximately 181 degrees F in the center of the flan.
It’s highly recommended that you chill the flan overnight to allow it to set properly. And, be sure to cover it well.
The next day invert the flan. Use a larger sided dish for doing this process. (Note: I’m using my CorningWare French White Round Quiche Pan.) It fits nicely around my baking dish.
Flip carefully. And, whola! You have a beautiful flan.
As you can see, this Cuban Pumpkin Flan offers a definite a wow factor for any family gathering.
All you have to do to serve is cut as you would any pie and serve immediately. Enjoy!
**Recipe Link for roasting a baking pumpkin can be found HERE.
If you love this recipe and want to enjoy more Cuban-inspired dishes, be sure to check out these recipes:
- Cuban Rice with Black Beans (Arroz Congris)
- Cuban Shredded Pulled Pork (Carnitas)
- Spa Mojito Recipe
- Mango Avocado Salsa
- Spanish White Bean Soup (Caldo Gallego)
Cuban Pumpkin Flan Recipe – Flan de Calabasa
For the caramel:
- 2 cups sugar
For the custard:
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 3 whole large eggs
- 3 large egg whites
- 15 oz 100% pure pumpkin canned, like Libbey’s, or 16 oz fresh roasted pumpkin (Recipe Link below in Recipe Notes)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
For the caramel:
- Cook 2 cups sugar in a dry stainless steel heavy frypan over moderate heat. Leave it undisturbed, but you can swirl the melted sugar gently to help the caramel assimilate the granular sugar.
- Once the sugar has melted and turns golden brown, immediately pour caramel into baking dish, tilting it to and fro to cover bottom and up the sides about 1/3 of the way up.
- Next, place the baking dish in 9×13 inch cake pan. You will add boiling water 1/2 of the way up the cake pan (approximately 6 cups) for the bain marie (water bath).
For the custard:
- In a blender, add eggs, egg whites, spices, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and salt. Blend for 1 minute.
- Spray the sides of the baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Then, pour custard into baking dish that has the caramel.
- Bake until golden brown on top and a knife or long toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Note: If you check the flan around the one hour mark and it seems as if the flan isn’t firming up, turn the oven higher to 350 degrees F. But, don’t let the water bath boil. Otherwise, it will overcook the flan.
- Carefully remove the baking dish from the water bath and transfer to a rack to cool.
- Finally, chill flan, covered for at least 6 hours—best if it is overnight or up to 48 hours.
- Run a cake knife between the side of the baking dish and flan. This will loosen the custard.
- Shake dish gently from side to side. Then, place a sided plate over the baking dish and invert flan. It is normal for the caramel to pour out of the baking dish and around the custard.
- Cut and serve as you would a pie.
- Chill any leftover flan by covering it with an inverted bowl that’s larger than the flan. Enjoy!