Seasonal Platings: Kabocha Squash Flan

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Main Ingredient: Vegetables
Menu Part: Dessert
Cuisine Type: Latin
Serves: 6 servings

Chef Greg Atkinson of Marché on Bainbridge Island in Winslow, Wash., goes beyond the traditional flan, infusing the dessert with seasonal offerings. His fall flan marries heavy cream and eggs with Kobocha squash, known as the Japanese pumpkin, topped off with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil.

Ingredients

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 lb. kabocha, squash, about 1/2 of a medium specimen
1/2 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
6 tsp. pumpkin seed oil

Steps

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. and butter six 4-ounce ramekins or glass custard cups. Place cups in a baking dish that will comfortably hold all of them and reserve.

2. Cut squash into disks or wedges and scrape out seeds, then cut away the peel. Cut the squash into 1-inch dice. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of cubed squash.

3. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat and cook the onion 5 minutes, or until tender and golden brown, stirring often. Add cream and squash, bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Let the squash simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until tender.

4. In a blender or food processor, pulse eggs with salt, then add squash mixture. Cover the top of the machine with a kitchen towel and process using short pulses at first so that the hot mixture does not overflow when the machine is turned on. Pulse until smooth, then evenly distribute the squash mixture between the ramekins.

5. Pour boiling water into the baking dish around ramekins until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins, cover baking dish with buttered baker's parchment and aluminum foil. Bake until the custard is set and no longer jiggles when the ramekins are tapped, about 25 minutes. Remove custards from oven and allow them to stand 10 minutes.

6. You can choose to serve the flans at once, or keep them warm in a 200° F. oven for up to 1 hour, or refrigerate them and then reheat as needed. To serve, loosen edges of custards with a spatula or knife, slipping the point of the spatula down the sides of the ramekins to let in enough air to release the custards. Invert custards onto plates and serve hot garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil. 

Recipe by Chef Greg Atkinson, Marché on Bainbridge Island, Winslow, Wash.