Instant Pot Kabocha Flan かぼちゃプリン

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  • Pressure Cooked in Instant Pot, this Kabocha Flan with caramel sauce has a silky smooth texture and rich custard flavor with a hint of sweet kabocha.

    A white plate containing Kabocha-flavored Flan with caramel sauce on top.

    Helloween is just around the corner and I wanted to share at least one pumpkin recipe before the holiday. Pumpkins in Japan are called Kabocha (カボチャ) and it is one of the most celebrated flavors in the fall. Over here in the US, I’ve been seeing kabocha (or kabocha squash) being sold alongside with pumpkins and other squashes at some local grocery stores and farmers markets.

    Today I’m sharing a recipe for Instant Pot Kabocha Flan (かぼちゃプリン). The golden sweetness and richness of kabocha, when used in an elegant dessert like flan, it really highlights how versatile the Japanese pumpkin can be.  Now it is time to take out your workhorse Instant Pot and make this kabocha-flavored flan for the season.

    Watch How to Make Instant Pot Kabocha Flan

    Pressure Cooked in Instant Pot, this Kabocha Flan with caramel sauce has a silky smooth texture and rich custard flavor with a hint of sweet kabocha.

    3 Tips to Make the Perfect Instant Pot Kabocha Flan

    1. Puree kabocha for the best texture

    Pureeing the kabocha is an important step for a smooth and silky texture of this autumnal flavored flan.  I used a fine mesh sieve (Uragoshiki in Japanese) to puree but you can definitely speed it up with a food processor. It is an extra step, but this helps to pulverize the fibers of the mashed kabocha. Nobody wants to see and bite into strands of fiber in their flan, so don’t skip this step!

    2. Use same size/shape ramekins

    The cooking time varies based on the size of the ramekins you use. For a consistent result, make sure your ramekins are all in the same size and shape. You don’t want to end up with a flan in a smaller ramekin over-cooked and the one in bigger ramekin under-cooked.

    3. Adjust the pressure cooking time

    Adjust the cooking time if you’re using a different size ramekin than mine.  For my recipe, I used 6-oz ramekins.  It took 6 minutes of high pressure cooking and 10 minutes of natural release. This 10 minute “natural release” is actually a hard stop. Do not wait until the pressure is naturally released. Remember, your flan is being “cooked” during the pre-pressure time, 6 minutes of pressure cooking, and 10 minutes of natural releasing time. This entire time is counted as cooking time.

    A white plate containing Kabocha-flavored Flan with caramel sauce on top.

    Holes are a Big NO NO for Flan

    What is the number one thing you have to achieve when you make flans?  In Japan, it is “a silky texture WITHOUT HOLES”. If you can see visible holes, then your flan is a failure (so harsh!). The reason why flans have very visible holes is either it’s overcooked and/or the heat is too strong.

    A white plate containing Kabocha-flavored Flan with caramel sauce on top.

    If you look at my flan, you can see tiny holes around the edges (a minor failure) but when you see inside the flan, there is no hole (see 2 pictures above). Those tiny holes on the edge were created because they are right next to the ramekin and the heat was probably too direct and strong.

    You may wonder what is wrong with holes.  Well, those holes in the flan give an unpleasant texture, far from the silky smooth texture that you’re after.  Therefore, watch out on cooking time and heat distribution. If you have lots of holes, even in the center of the flan, not just the outside, then you are definitely overcooking it.  You can either reduce the pressure cooking time or natural release time.

    Unfamiliar with the Items in Instant Pot Kabocha Flan Recipe?

    Kabocha Squash Pumpkin | Pantry | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    1. Kabocha

    It’s called kabocha squash in the US and Japanese pumpkin in Australia (how about in your country?). Curious about kabocha? You can read a little bit more about it here on my blog.

    Stainless Steel Steamer Basket

    2. A Collapsible Stainless Steel Steamer Basket

    The instant pot comes with a steamer basket (wire rack) for steaming, but the gap between wires are bigger and food can easily fall down. This collapsible steamer basket has been my all-time favorite for steaming in the pot or the instant pot. It’s the best $8 you could spend, especially if you enjoy steaming vegetables and other food.

    Fine Mesh Flour Sifter

    3. Straining Kabocha with Fine Mesh Sifter or Food Processor

    UragoshikiIn Japan, we have a specific kitchen utensil for straining food into a smooth texture and it’s called Uragoshiki (裏ごし器). It’s made of wooden cylinders and a fine mesh made of horsehair traditionally, but in recent years, nylon and metal are being used.

    This fine mesh flour sifter can be used as a strainer for starchy food like sweet potatoes and kabocha squash in order to remove the fibers.

    If you have a food processor, you can use it. I don’t like cleaning the food processor…so I usually use a fine mesh flour sifter and throw in the dishwasher after use.

    Two ramekins containing Kabocha-flavored Flan with caramel sauce on the bottom.
    If you like to serve in a ramekin like this, you can pour caramel sauce on top instead of adding on the bottom of the ramekin.

    No Instant Pot? Here’s How to Prepare Kabocha Flan over Stovetop

    No worries, I have a solution for you.  You can steam or boil kabocha on stovetop or microwave it until tender.  Then you can follow all the steps until the pressure cooking process and here’s what you need to do.

    Step 1: Fill the large skillet or pot with 1-inch water and bring it to boil.

    Step 2: Once water is boiling, turn the heat to the lowest and gently place the ramekins into the skillet/pot. Cover with the lid and steam the flan for 10 minutes.

    Step 3: Turn off the heat but DO NOT open the lid. Let the flan steamed with remaining heat for another 10 minutes.

    Step 4: Take out the ramekins and remove aluminum foil. Insert a skewer in the center to see if the custard is set and no liquid coming out. Let cool on the counter until the flan is cool. When they are at room temperature, move to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

    This Kabocha Pumpkin Flan recipe is not only luscious, but it’s also a perfect make-ahead dessert to serve for a special occasion. I hope you enjoy!

    A white plate containing Kabocha-flavored Flan with caramel sauce on top.

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    4.5 from 2 votes
    A white plate containing Kabocha-flavored Flan with caramel sauce on top.
    Instant Pot Kabocha Flan
    Prep Time
    50 mins
    Cook Time
    50 mins
    Let cool
    2 hrs 30 mins
    Total Time
    4 hrs 10 mins
     

    Pressure Cooked in Instant Pot, this Kabocha Pumpkin Flan with caramel sauce has a silky smooth texture and rich custard flavor with a hint of sweet kabocha.

    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: creme caramel, custard pudding, flan
    Servings: 4 ramekins (6-oz ramekin)
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    • 3 large eggs
    • ½ cup milk (120 ml)
    • ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream (120 ml)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 Tbsp sugar (38 g)
    • 15 oz kabocha squash/pumpkin (424 g) (with seeds)
    Caramel Sauce
    • 4 Tbsp sugar (50 g)
    • 1 Tbsp water
    • 2 Tbsp hot water
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan Ingredients
    Steam Kabocha in Instant Pot
    1. Quickly rinse the kabocha under water and remove the seeds with a spoon.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 1
    2. Cut kabocha into wedges and then 2 inch pieces.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 2
    3. Fill the Instant Pot with 1 cup water and set a steamer basket inside.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 3
    4. Put the kabocha in a single layer.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 4
    5. Close the lid and set HIGH pressure for 2 minutes.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 5
    6. Make sure the steam release handle points at “sealing” and not “venting”. The float valve goes up when pressurized.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 6
    Make Caramel Sauce
    1. While you’re waiting for Kabocha to finish (Keep in mind that after pressure cooking, you only let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes), we can make the caramel sauce. Boil water in a kettle or saucepan and set aside (you will only need 2 Tbsp hot water). Put 4 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp water in a small saucepan.

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 7
    2. Gently shake the saucepan to evenly distribute sugar and do not touch until the mixture starts to turn golden brown. Gently shake the pan again to distribute the mixture to have even color.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 8
    3. When the caramel reaches amber color (I like a slightly darker color – which has a milder bitter), turn off the heat and quickly add 2 Tbsp hot water to loosen it. The caramel will splash, so use a lid to protect yourself from getting caramel splatter.

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 9
    4. Swirl the saucepan to make even mixture and pour the caramel into 4 ramekins. Allow the caramel sauce to cool.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 10
    Make Kabocha Puree
    1. When it’s finished cooking, the Instant Pot will switch automatically to the “Keep Warm” mode. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then proceed with quick release (DO NOT EXCEED. I recommend to set a timer.) by turning the steam release handle to the “venting” position to let steam out until the float valve drops down. Hold a kitchen towel and do not place your hand or face over steam release valve. The steam should be left only a little bit after 10 minutes of natural release.

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 11
    2. Open the lid and remove the steam rack from the Instant Pot.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 12
    3. Use a knife or spoon to remove the flesh. Discard the kabocha skin (but it’s edible!).
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 13
    4. Use a flour sifter or fine mesh sieve (Uragoshiki in Japanese) or a food processor. Set the fine mesh sieve over a sheet of parchment paper and press the steamed kabocha into the mesh with a wooden spatula. Once it’s all done, flip the mesh sieve and take out the pureed kabocha onto the parchment paper. If you’re using a food processor, process the kabocha into a puree.

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 14
    5. Measure ½ cup (120 g) kabocha puree from the pile. With almost 1 lb kabocha, you will have enough to make 4 ramekins, but you may not have enough puree for another batch. It’s hard to predict the real weight of kabocha with seeds included, so please adjust accordingly. You can also save the puree for up to 3 days in the fridge. I sometimes make Kabocha Soup with the leftover puree.

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 15
    Make Custard Mixture
    1. In a large bowl, combine 3 eggs and 3 Tbsp sugar and whisk well.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 16
    2. Add ½ cup milk, ½ cup heavy cream, and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and whisk to combine.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 17
    3. Add the kabocha puree and mix until thoroughly combined.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 18
    4. For the best texture, set a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl (I use a 4-cup liquid measuring cup) and pass the custard mixture through the sieve. If you have a smaller fine mesh strainer, you can directly pour over the ramekins.

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 19
    5. Divide the custard mixture into 4 ramekins.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 20
    6. Cover each ramekin tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 21
    Pressure Cook
    1. Add 1 cup water into the Instant Pot and place the steam rack inside.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 22
    2. Put the 4 ramekins on the rack and make sure they are not tilted.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 23
    3. Close the lid and set HIGH pressure for 6 minutes. Make sure the steam release handle points at “sealing” and not “venting”.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 24
    4. When it’s finished cooking, the Instant Pot will switch automatically to the “Keep Warm” mode. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then proceed with quick release (DO NOT EXCEED. I recommend to set a timer.) by turning the steam release handle to the “venting” position to let steam out until the float valve drops down. Hold a kitchen towel and do not place your hand or face over steam release valve. The steam should be left only a little bit after 10 minutes of natural release.

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 25
    5. Take out one ramekin and remove aluminum foil. Insert a skewer in the center of the flan to see if the custard is set and no liquid comes out. If it’s not cooked through, repeat the pressure cooking process (the cooking time varies depending on your result).

      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 26
    6. Let cool on the counter until the flan is room temperature. Then put the ramekins on a tray, cover with paper towel (to absorb condensation/moisture) and plastic, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 27
    To Serve
    1. Run a knife around the ramekins.
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 28
    2. Hold the ramekin and plate together and shake vigorously a few times to invert onto a plate. Enjoy!
      Instant Pot Kabocha Flan 29
    Recipe Notes

    Caramel Sauce: If you serve the flan in a ramekin, you can make the caramel sauce right before serving and pour on top of the flan.

     

    Ramekins: Use the same size ramekins when you pressure cook. Do not use the different size as cooking time may vary based on the size of ramekins and hard to predict the cooking time.

     

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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