Pumpkin purin with pumpkin madeleines

A plated dessert I have been playing around with since early high school was purin with madeleines. I just have a very specific childhood memory of eating madeleines and purin(think flan, aka baked or set custard with a layer of caramel on it, also called pudding by the Japanese), which we got from Costco and 99 Ranch respectively, and I just loved the combination. Purin is smooth, silky, and creamy, with the vanilla custard being contrasted with the intense and slightly bitter caramel. Madeleines are buttery with a tender crumb, while the exterior is crisp from the sugars and butter caramelizing the the parts of the batter that are directly cooked against the pan. The two together is a simple yet pleasantly delightful combination! For this specific rendition, I went with pumpkin as my flavor of choice. A few years ago, I did a much less successful version of this dessert – this dessert was what that dessert was trying to be. That and in terms of execution, this desserts winds up being MUCH easier to make, as I found ways to simplify some of the more challenging aspects to making purin correctly.

For starters, we are using pumpkin puree instead of cooking down a kabocha squash from scratch. That already saves you about 20 minutes of cooking, blending, and straining the squash. Secondly, the purin, instead of steaming it, which is the typical, but much more challenging way to prepare purin, I went with a more panna cotta-like no-bake version, made from heating up your custard base so that the egg yolks aren’t raw, then using gelatin to set the custards so that they still have that gorgeous wobbly texture you would expect from purin. The caramel, which I used mugicha or barley tea in the first time around, remains relatively unchanged in either version in terms of the ingredient list. However, instead of cooking down the sugar with the tea, which makes gauging the caramelization really difficult, I opted to cook down the sugar on its own as a dry caramel, then once the sugar is golden brown, then add in the dark brown mugicha as way to make sure that the caramel is at the right temperature/bitterness to work with everything!

Instead of doing friands(small spongecake or muffin), I went with madeleines, since those were more directly inspired by my childhood of eating purin with madeleines. If you do not own a madeleine tin, you can totally make friands using the below batter and muffin tins instead, or even just make the friand recipe in the old version instead! The choice is up to you(and whatever equipment you have in your kitchen!). For this recipe, I used pumpkin puree in both the flan and the madeleines, so you can expect a pleasant pumpkin spice flavor to be running across both components in this dessert! I will admit I wish I had pepitas to garnish the madeleines with(I stupidly used them all to make chintextle with), but black sesame or even white sesame seeds, or almonds, work in a pinch as well! They are mostly there to add a toasty and textural note to the top of the madeleines! With this dessert, you get the flavors of the fall, but in two really fun and comforting components that bring a sense of nostalgia and festivity with them!

Makes about 18 madeleines:
2 egg whites + 1 whole egg
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups pumpkin purée
1/2 cup granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
4 tbsp butter, browned and kept melted, with more for lining
Pepitas or black sesame seeds

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs with baking powder, pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Then sift into that the flour and fold together everything with brown butter to form your batter. Transfer to a piping bag. Brush a madeleine pan with melted butter. Pipe the batter into each divot, about 2/3 full. Sprinkle on top of each pepitas or black sesame seeds. Rest the batter for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator – this will allow the madeleines to form a hump while baking. Then bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Allow the madeleines to cool down before attempting to unmold and store in an airtight container.

For the pumpkin purin:
2 tsp gelatin powder + 1 tbsp water
1/2 cup milk
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar, in two parts
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup barley tea

In a pot, heat up the gelatin, milk, and salt until the gelatin is fully dissolved into the milk. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree with egg yolks and sugar. Pour half the milk mixture into the pumpkin mixture, just to bring up the temperature of the pumpkin, then pour that back into the milk. Whisk everything in the pot on low heat for 2-3 minutes, just to fully combine everything and loosen the texture of the pumpkin. Add in the vanilla. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps. Divide the mixture into 4 small cups or containers and freeze for at least 2 hours.

In a pot, heat up the rest of the sugar with another pinch of salt until it begins to turn amber gold. Add in the barley tea and stir together on low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour the caramel over the still-frozen pumpkin purins, rotating the containers to spread the caramel as an even layer over the purins. Allow the caramel to cool down before serving the purins.

To finish:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp confectioner’s sugar

Whip everything to stiff peaks. Pipe a dollop of the cream over the pumpkin flan prior to serving.

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