Finally, pumpkins! For a year now, I've been waiting-waiting for pumpkin season. You see, two recipes had tucked themselves into the back of my brain and refused to let go. One cooked meat and vegetables into a stew, right in a whole pumpkin settled into the coals of a campfire -- sorry, I can't recommend that one yet, perhaps ever. The other cooked custard right inside a whole pumpkin. Yes, custard cooked inside a whole pumpkin, that one I happily recommend!
The stuffed pumpkin and custard recipe comes from "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American" by Jeff Smith, an uneven but often fascinating look at 'American ethnic cooking'. The recipe's headnotes say that custard baked in a pumpkin was a favorite of George Washington. It's kind of a cozy fall dessert, definitely dramatic in appearance and meant to be shared.
2010 UPDATE Turns out, the fascination with stuffed pumpkins is an annual affair. Check out the brand-new Stuffed Pumpkin with Apple & Cranberry!
RECIPE for WHOLE PUMPKIN BAKED with CUSTARD
Time to table: 1 hour, 45 minutes
1 small pumpkin, preferably a 'sugar' pumpkin or a 'pie pumpkin' or anything other than a pumpkin whose destiny is a jack o'lantern
CUSTARD (makes about 2 cups liquid)
3 eggs, whisked well
1 cup cream (sorry, half & half doesn't thicken well)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional but nice)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon butter, in tiny cubes
Preheat the oven to 350F or 400F. Wash the outside of the pumpkin very well. Carefully insert a knife into the flesh to cut off the 'top'. Remove and discard the seeds (or save them for Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds) and the pumpkin 'gunk' inside.
Whisk together the custard ingredients, then pour into the pumpkin. Sprinkle the butter cubes over top. Place the stem-top back onto the pumpkin and transfer to a baking dish. Bake for about 90 minutes or until the custard is firm. (Check after 60 minutes but both pumpkins I cooked took a full 90 minutes.)
To serve, use long-stemmed spoons (such as iced tea spoons) to share, scooping up bits of the cooked pumpkin along with custard.
This recipe was tested at both 350F and 400F, both worked fine. It's a good excuse to roast some butternut squash at the same temperature.
A grapefruit spoon's serrated blade is ever so useful for cutting stuff out of vegetables. I use one all the time.
We added currants to one batch, they tasted great but sank to the bottom.
If there's custard liquid leftover, pour it into small ramekins. Then place the ramekins in a low flat oven-safe dish and fill halfway up the sides of the ramekins with hot or even boiling water. (This is called a 'hot water bath'.) Place the dish in the oven alongside the whole pumpkin, the custards will be done about the same time or a little sooner.
If your pumpkin can hold more than two cups of liquid, you may want to make more liquid.
~ Pumpkin Corn Bread ~
~ Pumpkin Muffins ~
~ Pumpkin Pudding ~
~ more pumpkin recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Autumn Pumpkin Bread ~
~ Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars ~
~ Pumpkin Bread Pudding ~
~ more pumpkin recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade