Persimmon Flan

Persimmon Puree
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 cone piloncillo (Mexican unrefined brown sugar, available in ethnic markets such as Fiesta)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1⁄2 stick cinnamon
10 ripe persimmons, unpeeled, stem end
cut off flat
1⁄2 cup orange juice

A day ahead, put all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 3 to 4 minutes if fruit is very ripe and soft, up to 10 minutes if less ripe. Pour into a glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Purée in a food processor and pass through a sieve to remove solids.

Custard
1⁄2 cone piloncillo, finely chopped
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup persimmon purée (recipe above)
juice of half a lemon

Place piloncillo and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until piloncillo dissolves; set aside. Place sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in bowl of an electric mixer and blend while adding eggs, one at a time, then persimmon purée. Blend in piloncillo mixture and lemon juice.

Caramel
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring, until mixture turns amber in color and reaches 325 to 355 degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of caramel in bottom of 8 four-ounce glass baking cups. Let cool briefly, then pour custard on top. Place cups in a water bath, cover with foil, and bake until a knife inserted in center of custard comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Chill before unmolding. Makes 8.

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