• Posted by Califia Suntree on December 19th, 2014, 5:42 AM

    Though I simply do not and will not ever understand the whole PSL phenomenon (that’s Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course—it even has its own Twitter account, @TheRealPSL, with 91,000 followers and counting), who can argue with pumpkin and spice? Last year, I made my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie with garam masala, and vowed I would never do anything different. This year, though, I decided to do away with crust and just make a decadent pie filling that we could eat with a spoon—in other words, a flan, with pumpkin—and spiced it with chai. It worked. I’m always looking for ways to limit my dairy intake, so I made it mostly with light coconut milk, and then ramped up the coconut flavor with a splash of Malibu rum in the whipped cream topping. (Note: Malibu-rum-spiked whipped cream is also really, really good on key lime pie.) You can make the flan nondairy by using all  coconut milk and topping it with a dollop of whipped coconut cream. The chai is like pumpkin pie spice with extra oomph—the combination just works.

    Coconut-Chai Pumpkin Flan

    Makes one 9-inch flan

    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 1/4 cups light coconut milk
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    (Or, in place of coconut milk and heavy cream, use 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or light coconut milk)
    1 tablespoon loose chai tea (or 2-3 chai teabags)
    6 large eggs, beaten
    1 teaspoon Malibu rum
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    (Or omit the rum and use 1 teaspoon vanilla total)
    Pinch salt
    1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
    1/2 cup light-brown sugar, packed

    1. Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

    2. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the bottom of a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Bake until the sugar melts into a dark-golden caramel, about 35 minutes. Swirl to cover the bottom of the pie plate and set aside.

    3. While the sugar melts, heat the coconut milk and cream in a small, heavy saucepan just until steaming. Remove from heat and steep the chai in the cream until it cools. (Use a tea ball for loose tea.) Discard the tea.

    4. Whisk together the eggs, chai-cream, rum, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pumpkin puree and sugar, and keep stirring until the mixture is well blended. (Use a spoon—a whisk incorporates too much air.)

    5. Set the pie plate into a large pan and pour hot tap water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Carefully pour the custard over the caramel, and put the whole setup in the oven.

    6. Bake the flan until set and just firm, about 1 hour. Let cool completely. When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the outside edge and invert onto a large plate (note that the caramel will ooze, so make it a large plate or one with a rim). Serve topped with whipped cream or whipped coconut cream (see introduction).


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