Monday, December 20, 2010

Custard in a Pumpkin


I've wanted to bake custard in a pumpkin for so long that I think the urge must have originated in a previous life. Then, I assume, I was a rosy-cheeked hobbit with a fertile pumpkin patch and an overly productive flock of little hobbit-chickens (Cornish game hens?).

This year baking custard in a pumpkin (custkin? pumpkard? cumpstkin? pustard?) was actually one of my Four Fall Food Challenges, which also included crabapple jelly, acorn bread, and something else, because Four Fall Food Challenges sounds better than Three Fall Food Challenges even though I only thought of three.

Why haven't I blogged about the FFFC's? Because I didn't actually make any of them.

Until this past weekend, when I simmered lemongrass and star anise in homemade coconut milk to mix with the eggs and sugar that would fill the empty cavity formerly stuffed with seeds and bitter, stringy pumpkin pulp. I think it was definitely an improvement over a pumpkin au natural, and come to think of it, I know some people who would benefit from having their insides replaced with custard, too.

Baking a custpumptardkin is easy and fun, plus it's hard to imagine any dish that would be more at home in a fairy tale, with the exception of some sort of grim pie made from English orphans. I worked off of a recipe I found on-line, and I hesitate to share it without further tinkering. But the idea is really quite simple: make custard, scoop the guts out of pumpkin, and pretend that the pumpkin is a glass pan in a bain-marie.

If I were to do it over again, I'd use canned coconut milk, which is thicker than any homemade version I've ever concocted, less sugar, a pinch of black pepper, and not a pumpkin. Pumpkins are pretty, but I think a softer, sweeter squash, like a kabocha, kuri, or even an acorn (squash), would fare better.

And if I could really do it all over again, I'd still be that hobbit.

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