Silky in texture with a subtle warm spice undertone, Ackee Pimento Flan is a unique take on a traditional dessert featuring two distinctly Jamaican ingredients.
If you’re thinking pimento as in peppers I understand that you may have thought I’ve completely lost my mind putting seasoning peppers in flan 😆. But fret not, no need to call anyone, I’m referring to Jamaican Allspice which we simply call pimento in Jamaica.
“Pimento” derives from the Spanish word “pimienta” meaning pepper or peppercorn thus giving a basis for the confusion and allspice comes from the idea that the taste of the berry mimics the combination of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper all together.
Pimento is used widely in savory cooking in Jamaica and is one of the essential ingredients in jerk seasoning, giving it it’s distinctive flavour. I’ve played with pimento in desserts for nearly 10 years now; previously it was just a part of my spice blend for baking, however, more and more I have come to love having it shine on it’s own where you can really taste it but not to the point that it’s overpowering (side note: pimento shortbread cookies are one of my favorite treats! I will share the recipe here before the year is out). I must note that like cinnamon and cloves if you use too much pimento the taste can become medicinal and it can also numb your tongue, so bear that in mind; start your experimentation with a little then work your way up.
I’ve shared some interesting facts about pimento below the recipe, but for now let’s talk about this flan.
If like me, the silky texture of a custard can soften your heart, mellow your mood and brighten your day this recipe is a must try!
The milk is steeped with pimento grains and I add a couple hearty splashes of pimento liqueur for good measure. The subtle nutty flavour of the ackees along with their natural richness as I’ve mentioned before make them perfect for creamy desserts check out:
The best part of this recipe is how easy it is to make. Aside from the wait time for the steeping of the milk and making the caramel, everything is blended, poured and then baked.
In fact, if you can’t be bothered to make caramel; you could pour the custard straight into ramekins, bake, chill and serve a simple custard with fruit. Another way would be to bake the custard a prepared pie/tart shell and voila you’d have a custard pie/tart that you could dress up as you like.
What do you think? As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you make this or any of the recipes from this site, be sure to #amazingackee and @amazingackee so that I can see your posts across social media.
Until next time, thanks for stopping by 😊
Ackee Pimento Flan
For the flan:
- 1 can Condensed Milk
- 1 can Evaporated Milk
- 12 oz Parboiled Ackee (about 2 cups or 1 can drained)
- 3 eggs
- 2 yolks
- Pinch salt
- 2 tbsp Whole pimento Jamaican allspice
- 2 tbsps Pimento liqueur optional (bourbon, rum or coffee liquor would be great substitutes)
- Splash vanilla optional
For the caramel:
- 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup Water
Tools you’ll need:
- 9 x5-inch Loaf pan or whatever you prefer to bake in
- A roasting pan large enough to fit the loaf pan with water filled around its sides
Steep the evaporated milk:
Combine the evaporated milk and whole pimento grains in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.
Heat till it just comes to a boil then turn off and leave covered to steep for 15 to 30 minutes
Meanwhile, make the caramel:
Mix sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Place over medium heat and cook swirling the pan a bit as necessary till all the sugar has dissolved.
Once the sugar dissolves don’t agitate the pan. Keep the loaf pan nearby.
The mixture will start to bubble and change colour, remove it from the heat and pour into the pan once a nice amber caramel is achieved. (You can make your caramel darker in colour if preferred but remember that darker caramel is more bitter in taste)
Prepare the custard:
Preheat oven to 325F and set some water to boil.
Strain the evaporated milk into the jar of a blender.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend till completely smooth
Strain into the loaf pan over the prepared caramel (it would have hardened)
Place load pan in roasting pan and place on middle rack in oven. Pour the hot water into the roasting pan to come up half way up the sides of the loaf pan.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
When done the edges will be set but the centre will jiggle slightly when gently shook.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about an hour at room temperature*
Chill overnight or till completely cold.
Sit the loaf pan in boiling water briefly to remelt the caramel (I like to use the same roasting pan I did for baking)
Place a plate on top of the pan and invert.
Cut into desired slices and serve.
Tip: at this point, I usually gently run a knife around the edges of the flan to loosen it from the sides of the pan. I do this for cheesecakes or any custard that I’ll be de-molding. Because they shrink away from the sides of the pan as they cool, if the custard sticks to the pan at one point or another, there may be little tears or cracks, running the knife around the edge helps to prevent this.
10 Interesting Things About Jamaican Pimento (Allspice)
- The Pimento tree is indigenous to the Caribbean Islands
- Pimento trees grow most abundantly in Jamaica
- Jamaica is the chief and best producer of pimento in the world*, it is the major spice produced.
- Jamaica has the longest production history of pimento having started in about 1509 when the tree was identified
- The earliest reference to use of pimento in London was in 1601
- In 1693 Pimento was marketed as “sweet scented Jamaica pepper”
- In 1721 Pimento was first listed in the London Pharmacopoeia (an official publication containing a list of medicinal drugs with their effects and directions for use)
- From the late 1800s to early 1900s in the US and UK it was fashionable to have umbrella handles and walking sticks made with pimento wood, so much so that in 1882 strict controls on the cutting of pimento saplings were implemented to prevent a wipeout of the trees.
- In 1920 the manufacture of oil from pimento leaves started
- In 2006 the export of pimento products from Jamaica was estimated at US$5 million annually
*Other major export producers of pimento are Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico however, Jamaica produces the best quality when characteristics such as oil content and composition, aroma, colour, size and so on are considered.
Gayle, John R. Pimento The Jamaican Allspice Story. Jamaica: IICA, 2013. PDF file.
“Jamaican Pimento.” University of the West Indies Mona – Department of Chemistry, 18 Oct. 2017, http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm/lectures/pimento.html