Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin custard

For tonight's festivities at our neighbor's house, I chose to make pumpkin custard. True. This involved tackling two food groups that I'd never attempted before. Custard and actual pumpkin. All for very public consumption. But when else would I make this? My husband and I really don't need to eat eight servings of pumpkin custard ourselves. After all, neither of us is dangerously underweight. Besides, this was the perfect occasion to use the adorable ramekins I'd bought years ago on sale at Williams-Sonoma and never used.

Aren't they darling?

So. Actual pumpkins. Sugar pumpkins, to be precise, because I'd read that you shouldn't use jack o'lantern pumpkins for whatever reason. Probably something promulgated by the pumpkin farmers association. No matter. I was hopping whole hog on the pumpkin bandwagon.

The pumpkin (cute little organic sugar thing) sat before me on the counter. I was wielding a large knife and eyeing it warily. My internet research indicated that I should treat it like a cantaloupe. Made sense. It was the general shape of a cantaloupe. So I plunged the knife into the pumpkin.

Whereupon it stuck. And I. could. not. get. it. out. No matter how hard I tugged.

Cantaloupe, my aunt's fanny!

So it's a Halloween miracle that I managed to make this custard without losing any fingers. It was nothing like cutting up a vegetable. I imagine it was much more similar to woodworking. Chiselling pieces of pumpkin, not carving it. By the time I finished the entire (small) pumpkin, my fingers and arms were sore, and my chest hurt. Pumpkin-robics.

And here it is.

Pumpkin custard
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin (or winter squash)
2 cups cream, milk, or a mixture
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs plus 3 yolks
pinch salt
3/4 cup sugar

Put pumpkin in medium saucepan on rangetop. Barely cover with water. Bring to boil and cook until very tender (5-15 minutes). Let cool. Puree with some of the milk or cream in food processor or blender.

Put the rest of the milk or cream, the cinnamon, and half the nutmeg in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook just until it begins to steam, 3 to 5 minutes.

Use a whisk or an electric mixer to beat the eggs and yolks with the salt and sugar until pale yellow and fairly thick. Heat the oven to 300° F and put a kettle of water on to boil.

Gradually add the cream to the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Add the pumpkin puree to the mixture. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish or eight 4- to 6-ounce ramekins and sprinkle with the remaining nutmeg. Put the dish or cups in a baking pan and pour hot water into the pan to within about 1 inch of the top of the bowl or cups. Bake until the mixture is not quite set--it should wobble just a little in the middle--about 30 minutes for the cups or about 45 minutes if you're baking in a dish. Use your judgment. Cream sets faster than milk. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold, within a day.


  1. Wow! This is lovely. I would love to make some for the Halloween party! Delicious.


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