Storytelling cookbook puts Arizona spin on the holidays

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BY Kristine Cannon

This holiday season, add a taste of Arizona to your Christmas spread.

And the Historical League of the Arizona Heritage Center’s latest cookbook, “Tastes & Treasures II: A Storytelling Cookbook of Historic Arizona,” has just the dessert to make this year:

Scottsdale resident and Historical League Historymaker Jim Bruner’s homemade vanilla ice cream paired with Sedona-based Elote Café’s famed pumpkin flan.

“Simple homemade ice cream has been a part of the Bruner family for at least 70 years,” Bruner writes in “Tastes & Treasures II.” “We continue the tradition my parents stated and serve it for every birthday and special occasion, even Christmas Eve dinner.”

Bruner and the family made the ice cream the old-fashioned way, too, “with the wooden bucket and hand crank,” he recalls.

“Homemade ice cream makes me recall my early childhood memories,” Bruner says.

As for Elote Café’s pumpkin flan, the rich, creamy dessert is topped with freshly whipped cream and maple-glazed pumpkin seeds and described by the restaurant as “a step above pumpkin pie.”

“Tastes & Treasures II” is a 216-page cookbook curated and written by the Historical League, which celebrates 40 years of support of this Arizona Historical Society Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate.

The cookbook is chock full of recipes and evocative food stories from 24 historic Arizona restaurants and Historymakers, like Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and past President of ASU Dr. Lattie Coor.

“Tastes & Treasures II” is available on the Historical League’s website,, for $30; and funds from “Tastes & Treasures II” support education programs at the Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park, including National History Day, exhibits, library/archives and capital improvements.

Without further ado, the recipes…

Bruner’s Homemade Ice Cream


• 1 large fresh pasteurized egg

   (or 1⁄4 cup liquid eggs)

• 1 cup granulated white sugar

• 2-1⁄4 cups whole milk

• 1-3⁄4 cups half-and-half

• 1-1⁄2 teaspoons La Vencedor

   Mexican vanilla, if available

• Pinch salt


Note: This recipe has been reduced from the original to fit the smaller electric ice cream makers used today. Please follow manufacturer’s directions on pre-freezing the center freezer container. This recipe makes about five cups of delicious vanilla ice cream.

1. In a medium bowl whisk the egg, then slowly blend in the sugar while continuing to whisk.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth.

3. Place mixture in refrigerator and chill thoroughly.

4. Pour into the center freezer container and put into an electric ice cream maker, following the freezing directions.

Elote Café’s

Pumpkin Flan


• 1-1/4 cups sugar, for the

   bottom of the ramekins

   (or baking dish)

• 6 eggs

• 2 cups half-and-half 

• 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened

   condensed milk   

• 1 cup from a (14-ounce) can

   of pumpkin puree     

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 1 teaspoon ground cañela

   (or ground cinnamon)

• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

   (freshly ground if possible)

• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

• 1/2 teaspoon ginger

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 pint fresh raspberries

• 1 cup freshly whipped cream

• Maple-glazed pumpkin seeds


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Have eight 6-ounce ramekins or a 9.5 deep-dish pie plate, a roasting pan (lined with a dish towel) and a source of simmering hot water at the ready.   

2. Place the sugar in a medium sauté pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and becomes liquefied. The sugar may look lumpy as it melts; keep stirring and the lumps will dissolve. Once the sugar boils, stop stirring. The sugar is ready when it changes color from clear to rich golden brown and is nutty smelling.

3. Carefully pour the sugar into each individual ramekin. Do this quickly, as the caramel will harden as it cools, coating the bottom of each ramekin with the melted sugar. Set aside to cool.

4. Place the eggs into a blender and puree on low. Add the half-and-half, sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, vanilla, cañela (or cinnamon), nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. Puree on low for 1 minute. Allow the mixture to rest a few minutes, as air bubbles are to be avoided.

5. Place the ramekins into the roasting pan. Gently stir with a spoon, then pour the flan mixture over the caramel, dividing it evenly. Place the roasting pan into the oven. Pour the simmering hot water into the roasting pan, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

6. Bake the flan for about 45 minutes (55 minutes for a deep dish). To test for doneness, gently shake a ramekin; the center of the custard should still jiggle slightly. You may also test by inserting the tip of a knife into the center. If the flan is still liquid, it needs more time in the oven.

7. When done, remove from the oven and let the custard cool on the counter in the roasting pan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for four hours or up to three days.

8. Unmold by going around the inside edge of the ramekin with a very thin paring knife. Then invert the ramekin onto the serving plate; the custard should fall out. If the flan does not release easily, dip the ramekin or dish in warm water for about 1 minute.

9. Serve with a sprinkling of the maple-glazed pumpkin seeds, a few fresh raspberries and a spoonful of fresh whipped cream.

Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Seeds


• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

• 1/2 teaspoon allspice

• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

• 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

• 1 cup raw, shelled pumpkin seeds

• 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 and place a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside. In a separate small heatproof bowl combine the vanilla and maple syrup, then set aside.

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl, toss with the melted coconut oil and then spread out evenly on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to the bowl with the maple syrup and vanilla. (You can use the parchment paper as a sling to do this, then return it to the baking sheet.) Stir to evenly coat. Add the spice mixture, stirring well.

3. Return seeds to the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes more, or until golden brown. The seeds are sticky and soft when done but will harden as they cool. Clumps can easily be broken up. Transfer to a container with a lid.  Sprinkle a few of these delicious seeds on the pumpkin flan.