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Pumpkin Flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce

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We adapted our original recipe for Flan Napolitano into an irresistible fall dessert with pumpkin. Celebrate fall with this amazing Pumpkin Flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce. Flan Napolitano is a cream cheese flan and this pumpkin version will set a new standard for your fall-themed desserts. 

Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce
Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce

Perfect for Holiday Dinners:

Holiday dinners always seem to be a bit more involved and time-consuming. Main courses like turkey and roast beef demand prime time in the oven.

Then there are all the side dishes that need oven time. If you don’t plan to make some of the dishes and the dessert ahead of time, your dinner could be very late. Not to mention, your stress could be so high you won’t be able to enjoy the holiday meal.

The best piece of advice I have to reduce your stress is to plan ahead. Find side dishes and desserts that you can make far in advance.

Flan is a perfect dessert to make in advance and it even tastes better after a day or two. Honestly, you could make this three or four days in advance and let it sit in the pan until it is time to serve. Reduce your stress this holiday season and plan ahead with this pumpkin flan Napolitano. 

One of the main reasons you want to make flan in advance is because the hard caramel layer needs time to sit and liquefy after it is baked.  

Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce
Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce

What’s the Difference Between Flan, Creme Caramel, and Leche Flan?

Technically there is no difference between flan, creme caramel, and leche flan. They are different names for a delicate, soft, creamy, custard that is baked on a layer of hard caramel sauce. Once the flan cools and sits in the fridge for a while, the caramel liquifies into a delightful, sweet syrup. Some countries have slight variations to the ingredients and their proportions

Flan Napolitano, for example, is a Mexican style flan that has cream cheese added to the recipe. It is also known as flan de queso. The cream cheese makes the flan incredibly creamy and smooth. This recipe is for pumpkin flan Napolitano. The pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices turn this dessert into the perfect combination of flavors and textures to ring in the fall season.


You can make caramel simply by heating sugar until it melts and then cooks to an amber brown color. It is so simple, it sounds like a mistake. Can you really turn plain white sugar into caramel? Absolutely. When you cook plain ole’ granulated sugar, it eventually turns into a thick, hot, sticky syrup. Voila! You have caramel.

This isn’t the kind of creamy pourable caramel that you can pour over a scoop of ice cream. You would need to add cream and butter to get that kind of caramel sauce.

This is pure caramelized sugar that will get rock hard when it cools down. You will need to pour it into the cake pan while it is still hot and pourable. When your finished baking the flan, let it sit in the fridge for several hours. The moisture from the custard will liquify the hard caramel and create an authentic, restaurant-style flan.

When Caramel Sticks To The Pan:

As I mentioned above, this caramel will turn into a rock-hard candy when it cools. There is nothing wrong with a hard caramel candy unless it sticks to the bottom of your flan pan and does not pour out on top of the flan. I mean, that sweet caramel syrup is an essential part of a flan. Sometimes I even make extra because I love it so much.

No worries though. If you let the baked flan sit in the fridge for six to eight hours, the liquid from the flan custard will dissolve the caramel. Usually, if there is any caramel that has not dissolved, it is soft enough to scrape out of the pan.

Making the Caramel Sauce

There are basically two methods for making caramel. The first one is the dry method which is simply dry sugar heated in a dry pan until it becomes caramel. The second method is the wet method and it is the one we used in this recipe.

The wet method is by far easier but if you prefer the dry method then by all means, go for it.

The first thing you do is add water to the sugar. That is why it is called the wet method. Oh, and don’t forget a pinch of salt. Salt will make the caramel sauce super yummy.

Now you want to stir the sugar water until it comes to a boil. Once it starts to boil, stop stirring the mixture. You can give it one or two stirs every minute or so to prevent hot spots but don’t overdo it.

When the mixture turns a pretty golden to amber color, take it off the heat and stir in the rum. At this point, you can pour the hot syrup into your pan then carefully swirl it to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.

Once you pour the caramel sauce into the flan pan, set the pan aside while you prepare the custard.

Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce
Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce

An important tip for safety:

This recipe calls for adding rum to the hot caramel just before you pour it in the cake pan. Please be careful.  When sugar melts and turns into caramel, the temperature is well over 350°F. As a result, when you add liquid to the scorching hot caramel, the sauce will boil up furiously and send up a puff of burning hot steam. Keep your face and hands away from the hot steam.

You should also be careful when you pour the hot caramel into the cake pan. You need to pour it while it is still hot otherwise it will turn into a solid brick in the bottom of your saucepan. If you pour it in a metal pan then the pan will heat up from the hot caramel so you may want to use an oven mitt to hold the pan.

How to Make the Flan:

Making the custard portion of the flan is super easy. Simply throw all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend them until they are smooth. Make sure you don’t over-process the custard. Once all the ingredients get well combined, turn the processor or blender off. If you keep blending it then air will get incorporated into the mixture and the baked flan will not be as smooth.

After you mix the custard, pour it over the caramel sauce that is already in the pan.

How to get perfectly smooth, creamy flan:

Tip one:

For a properly baked, smooth flan, you need to bake it in a water bath. So you need to put the pan with your flan in a larger pan that will hold some hot water. (We used a turkey roasting pan.) Pour the hot water in the larger pan until it is at least halfway up the outer edge of the flan pan. Make sure you don’t spill any hot water inside the flan mixture.

Tip two:

Do not over-bake the flan. The flan will be finished baking before it actually LOOKS finished. The edges should look set but the center should still look slightly jiggly. Not wet, just jiggly. If you really want to be precise then get an instant-read thermometer and take the flan out of the oven when the center reaches 175°F.

Don’t sweat it too much if you leave the flan in the oven a bit too long, it will still taste good. And the great thing about Flan Napolitano is that it is pretty forgiving since it has cream cheese in the custard. It can take a little extra heat and still have a creamy, smooth texture.

Tip three:

Strain the custard mixture before you pour it into the pan. If you strain the custard mixture you will get rid of all the bits and lumps and have a smooth texture.

How To Unmold the Flan:

Right after the flan is finished baking, it will be very soft and delicate. It needs time to cool and completely set. It also needs time for the hard caramel to soften and turn into a syrup. 

After you remove the flan from the oven, take it out of the water bath and let it cool to room temperature. When it is cool enough, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight (or longer if you make this two or three days in advance).

When you are ready to serve the flan, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan then place a serving dish upside-down, on top of the flan. Now flip the flan over so the serving dish is on the bottom and the flan is on the top. Gently shake the pan loose from the flan and lift it off. The pan will have a bit of “suction” so you may need to rotate as you lift.

Now eat the best pumpkin cream cheese flan you will ever have!! And if you just love cream cheese flan then check out our Flan Napolitano that we baked in individual dishes. 

Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce
Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce

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Pumpkin flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce

Celebrate fall with this amazing Pumpkin Flan Napolitano with Rum Caramel Sauce. Flan Napolitano is a cream cheese flan and this pumpkin version will set a new standard for your fall themed desserts.
5 from 6 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 417kcal
Author: Dahn Boquist



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons rum


  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 egg yolks whisked briefly with a fork
  • 1 whole egg whisked briefly with a fork
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice see notes if you don’t have this spice
  • pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 325°F       

Make the caramel syrup:

  • Have a 9 inch cake pan close by.
  • Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix the sugar, water, and salt together and stir gently until the sugar has melted and begins to boil. Once the sugar has melted only stir occasionally to make sure there are no isolated hot spots. Cook until it is light amber to medium brown in color. Remove from the heat and very carefully stir in the rum. The mixture will bubble and steam like mad so be careful. (The alcohol will cook out and only leave the rum flavor)
  • Pour the caramel syrup into the bundt pan and carefully swirl it around the pan so it coats the bottom and sides. (Be very careful not to get the hot caramel on you, it will burn intensely.) Let the caramel cool while you make the custard. 

Make the custard:

  • Bring two quarts of water to a boil and let it simmer while you make the custard. You will use the hot water for the water bath. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend or process just until the ingredients are smooth and well combined. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh that has been set over a large bowl. Toss out any egg particles or lumps that collect in the strainer. 
  • Slowly pour the mixture over the caramel in the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger pan for a water bath. (A turkey roasting pan works well). 
  • Add boiling water to the larger pan, being careful not to get water inside the flan. 
  • Cover the top of the flan with fin foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the edges look set. (The center will still look slightly jiggly.)
  • Remove the pans from the oven then remove the cake pan from the water bath. Allow the flan to cool down to room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then transfer it to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight). The flan will continue to set as it cools down. 
  • When the flan has completely set, run a knife around the edges of the bundt pan and invert it on a serving plate and shake it gently to loosen it. 


  •  Make sure you use canned pumpkin puree and not canned pumpkin pie filling. They look similar but the pumpkin pie filling has spices and sugar.
  • When you blend the custard ingredients, only process them until they are all blended together. If you continue to let the filling mix for several minutes, it will add air to the mixture and affect the texture of the flan. 
  • If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon cloves. 
  • For perfectly creamy and soft flan do not over-bake the custard. It will be done baking when the edges are set but the center is still slightly jiggly. The flan will continue to set after you remove it from the oven. If you have an instant-read thermometer, you will know it is done when the center reads 175°F. 
  • Make sure you let the flan sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight so the caramel has time to liquify. If you take the flan out of the pan too soon, the caramel will be stuck to the bottom of the pan.



Serving: 1 | Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 9.4g | Fat: 16.7g | Saturated Fat: 9.7g | Cholesterol: 170mg | Sodium: 166mg | Fiber: 0.7g | Sugar: 56g

Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandchildren or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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