My memories of flan are many and varied. Growing up in a Cuban family, this web we almost always had flan for dessert after Sunday afternoon dinners, impotent and it was almost always made by one of my grandmothers. The ritual was the same. Dinner done, steroids they’d make their way slowly to the kitchen with an armload of dirty dishes. Pots and plates were washed or soaked while the espresso maker was switched on. As it finished brewing, the machine would steam and bang, and the flan would come out of the fridge in preparation for plating. Plating was a dangerous and tricky process whereby one held a plate upside down over the mold, said a little prayer, and flipped quickly. My grandmothers were experts at this maneuver. The mold was removed and caramel would stream from the top of the flan, smelling of vanilla and toasted sugar. A child’s dream come true and still one of the homiest smells I can imagine.
Though I love traditional flan and all the memories that come with it, I wanted to make something that was a little more Autumn. I took the traditional recipe and added pumpkin, cinnamon, cognac and a little mascarpone cheese. I also dressed it all up with honey cardamom pumpkin seeds and a sprinkling of sweet cocoa nibs. It ended up being a wonderful fall dessert full of caramel and spice and everything nice.