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Individual squash flans

October 14, 2009

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Serves 8

Richard Garcia, chef of Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro in Foxborough, uses a variety of squash called Boston Marrow for these individual flans. An average Boston Marrow squash weighs 6 to 8 pounds, so choose a small one and use half of it. You can substitute butternut squash.

Butter (for the dishes)
3 pounds Boston Marrow squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (enough to make 3 1/2 cups) or 1 1/2 medium peeled seeded butternut squash
6 eggs plus 6 extra yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
2teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Salt, to taste
Extra maple syrup (for sprinkling)

1. Butter 8 individual souffle dishes or custard cups ( 3/4-cup capacity each).

2. If necessary, peel and seed the squash. In either case, cut the squash into 3/4-inch dice. You need 3 1/2 cups diced squash.

3. In a saucepan fitted with a steamer insert and several inches of boiling water, set the squash in the steamer basket. Cover with a lid and steam over high heat for 15 minutes or until the squash is very tender. Drain into a colander.

4. Set the oven at 300 degrees.

5. On a nonstick baking sheet, spread the squash and bake it for 15 minutes or until it is very dry.

6. Turn up the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

7. In a food processor, combine eggs, extra yolks, cream, maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like.

8. Divide the mixture among the dishes. Set them in a roasting pan. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

9. Cook the flans for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch.

10. Remove the dishes from the water bath. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow them to settle. Serve in the ramekins or unmold: Run a knife around edges of the dishes and turn out onto plates. Drizzle with maple syrup.

Adapted from Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro