When I traveled to France in high school, eating in the restaurants was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I can remember we went to many smaller places, one of which I decided to order dessert from. After carefully looking at the menu, passing up the pastries, I decided on the crème caramel. I had ever had it before, and I was not quite sure what to expect. I guess I was thinking it was going to be like crème brulee, warm but with gooey caramel instead of the crunchy. When it arrived though, it was sort of like a gelatinous custard with runny caramel...and not enough of it I thought. It was ok, but not what I expected, and I was not wowed. I never thought to order it again after that since I figured I liked crème brulee better. So why did I decide to make raw crème caramel last weekend? Well, I was paging through a cookbook, trying to think of something creamy to make since my boyfriend Eric requested something creamy and I came across a crème caramel recipe. I thought to myself, I bet it would be way better rawified with a twist on it!
So, I decided to make it with a seasonal twist, pumpkin! Why not? Pumpkin and caramel are a match made in heaven! I made a super silky base with fresh young coconut, pumpkin and just a bit of ginger. It tasted amazing before it even went into the molds. I used my raw caramel with it, thinned with a bit of maple syrup to allow it to cascade down the sides once plated.
This crème caramel put the one I had in France to shame. It was a little piece of heaven..so smooth, creamy, and caramelly...just the right amount! I love it when I can make something raw and it turns out better than I remember the cooked version!
Raw Pumpkin Crème Caramel
Makes 2 Flans
1 cup soft medjool dates, pitted (soaked in water for 30 minutes if not soft and drained well)
3 Tbsp raw coconut butter
3 Tbsp maple syrup or raw coconut nectar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1/4 cup filtered water
2 cups young coconut meat*
1/2 cup chopped raw sweet pie pumpkin or sweet winter squash (such as kabocha)
1/4 cup coconut water
1/4 cup raw coconut nectar or your choice of raw liquid sweetener
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
a small piece fresh ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp raw coconut butter
(warmed to liquid)
To make the caramel, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (adding the water to thin if necessary). Line 2 1 cup ramekins with plastic wrap, and spoon about 1 Tbsp caramel into the bottom of each.
To make the filling, in a high speed blender or food processor combine coconut, coconut water, pumpkin, coconut nectar, sea salt vanilla, maple, ginger and cinnamon and blend until smooth and creamy. With the processor running, add the coconut oil, and process for a minute until blended. Remove the filling from the food processor (if you do not have a high speed blender and the mixture is not completely smooth, you can strain the mixture.) Pour into the prepared ramekins, and place in the freezer to firm up for about 2-4 hours until set before unmolding. Unmold onto a plate, smooth out any lines on the sides with a warm knife, then whisk a little more maple syrup into the caramel so that it is runny, and spoon over the crème caramel so that it runs down the sides.
*If you do not have access to young coconut meat, you can substitute 2 cups raw cashews soaked for 4 hours and drained for the coconut and filtered water for the coconut water.