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Friday, November 26, 2010

Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans - French Fridays with Dorie

I was looking forward to making these for Thanksgiving. I like pumpkin, love Gorgonzola, and think that walnuts make almost anything better. To my taste, they weren't as wonderful as I hoped. I think they needed a little drizzle of something sweet to bring out the pumpkin flavor and to serve as a counterbalance to the cheese. But they were pretty good, and dead easy to make.
Any time that all you need to do is dump a bunch of ingredients in a food processor and whirr for a few seconds--that's easy. Here, the ingredients were a can of pumpkin, eggs, and cream.
My ramekins are bigger than standard ones. They come with lids, which is good and bad--good because they look cute and are easy to stack and carry; bad because the rim for the lid makes eating whatever's inside a little tricky. My filling only came up to about the halfway mark on these ramekins rather than almost to the brim as in the picture. Plenty of room to put the cheese and toasted walnuts on top. (I'm also cooking out of Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Whenever she uses toasted walnuts in a recipe, she makes you rub off the skins, or as much of the skins as you can get off. I felt like a scofflaw not rubbing off the skins here.)
Boiling water goes into a pan that's been lined with paper towels (to keep the ramekins from slip-sliding around the pan). After about 35 minutes, a knife inserted into the pumpkin custard came out clean or nearly so, and the flans were ready for dinner.
They got good reviews at the dinner table, but I did notice that not everyone finished the pumpkin custard, although everyone ate the cheese and walnuts. My fear that the cheese would be too strong for some people proved to be unfounded.
In a serving note, Dorie says that "the American" in her likes to eat these with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. I think that's just what they needed.


  1. Your flans look beautiful! I agree they needed a little something else!

  2. There was an aftertaste that I did not like with these flans. I was thinking about the walnuts and I think you are right, the skins needed to come off. The dish was beautiful and the nuts with the skins on made it so lovely, however, that might have been the taste I did not want. And, yes, I needed something sweet with these flans. Their flavor did not live up to how pretty they looked and to all those yummy ingredients.

  3. Steph and Kris,
    They were a little disappointing, weren't they? I was thinking that the cheese and nuts would be great with baked sweet potatoes--but then I'd add brown sugar or maple syrup.

  4. I am just envious that you managed to get six servings, when I pulled only four:) But everybody liked it, which was a great surprise.
    In the past I used a lot of toasted almonds and hazelnuts. In my culture (Serbia), walnuts are rarely warmed up or toasted, but I love the taste of roasted nuts in general. I can see how the skin could impart some bitterness, but always thought it's just for aesthetics reasons:)
    I agree that honey would make the flans a bit more interesting. Next time:)

  5. Lana,
    My sense of taste isn't refined enough to notice any bitterness from unskinned walnuts, plus it's a pain to rub them in a dishcloth to get the skins off. Like you, I love the taste of roasted nuts, so I guess that's a good enough reason to do it. My six servings were pretty small, but enough to satisfy people.

  6. i felt the same way about these flans. i'm determined to make them better!

  7. ECL,
    Any ideas? I don't think that a more assertive hand with the salt and pepper would have been enough. Maybe creme fraiche and honey are all they need?