serves 8

gluten-free, no nuts

This flan, which is perfect for Thanksgiving, is almost like a crustless pie, but it’s much silkier than traditional pumpkin pie filling. My favorite part of the dessert is that it can be completely made ahead of time and refrigerated. In fact, the flavors meld together over a day or two and become even more complex. And at the holidays, its light texture is a welcome reprieve from all the richness that precedes it.


·       Coconut palm sugar transforms the runny caramel of classic flan with its tropical deep sweetness. It’s now readily available in supermarkets in granulated form.

·       Glass, ceramic, and metal pans conduct heat differently. Start checking the baked custard for doneness at the bottom of the range and then every 5 minutes or so. 


The flan will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Better Baking book cover Better Baking by Genevieve Ko


  • 1¼ cups (214 g) coconut palm sugar

  • 1 (13.5-ounce; 382-g) can coconut milk, well shaken

  • ¾ cup (174 g) heavy cream

  • 1 cup (279 g) canned pure pumpkin puree

  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

  • Unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted, for garnish (optional)


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Set out a 2-inch-deep 9-inch-round glass or ceramic dish or cake pan. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. (Remove from the heat if it’s ready before you need it.) 

2. Bring ¾ cup (128 g) of the sugar and ¼ cup (57 g) water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook without stirring until the caramel is very dark brown with thick, lavalike bubbles, 8 to 10 minutes; a candy thermometer should register 245°F. Immediately use a silicone spatula or large metal spoon to scrape all of the caramel into the baking dish, swirling to coat the bottom evenly. If the caramel doesn’t swirl easily, spread it with the spatula. 

3. Combine the coconut milk, cream, and the remaining ½ cup (86 g) sugar in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, whisk the pumpkin, eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl until blended. While whisking, add the hot coconut milk mixture in a slow, steady stream and whisk until smooth.

4. Pour the pumpkin mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into an 8-cup liquid measuring cup or a large bowl with a spout, then pour into the caramel-coated dish. Place the dish in a large roasting pan and place on the oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come three quarters of the way up the side of the dish; don’t let any water splatter into the dish.

5. Bake the flan until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge of the custard comes out clean but the center still jiggles slightly, 35 to 45 minutes. 

6. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven, then remove the dish from the water. Try not to splash any water into the dish in the process— you can take it out with a wide, sturdy spatula or with your hands, protecting them with oven mitts. Cool the flan to room temperature on a wire rack, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight. 

7. To serve, run a thin offset spatula or knife around the sides of the baking dish. Center a serving plate with a lip over the dish. Gripping the plate and dish together, quickly and carefully flip both. Lift the dish off the plate. Garnish with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes, if you’d like.

Excerpted from Better Baking: Wholesome Ingredients, Delicious Desserts © 2016 by Genevieve Ko. Photography © 2016 by Romulo Yanes. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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