Pumpkin custard, faintly sweet and deeply nourishing, finds its way to our Thanksgiving table each year. One of my favorite desserts, pumpkin custard is suitable for those who adhere to gluten- or grain-free diets, serving as a perfect and elegant substitute for classic pumpkin pie. I love the gentle sweetness, the rich and creamy texture of a good custard. It’s a humble food, but elegant, too. A basic custard of egg yolks, cream and a sweetener is lovely on its own, the inclusion of fresh pumpkin puree elevates the simple dessert beyond its common roots into something extraordinary.
A lovely, seasonal food, there’s nothing quite like fresh pumpkin. While I cherish the first strawberries of spring, the fuzzy and sweet peaches of summer, it is the pumpkins and hard-shell squashes of autumn that make my heart sing. From the green and knobby kabochas to the striated carnival squashes, I love them all, but it’s pumpkin with its sweet orange flesh that calls to me – and loudly, too. Pumpkin, like all winter squashes, is a nourishing food – rich in carotenes, particularly beta-cryptoxanthin which may provide some element of protection against cancer. A study of over 60,000 Chinese found that those who consumed the most beta-cryptoxanthin enjoyed a 27% decrease in the risk for lung cancer. Of course, pumpkin, like most vegetables, is best served with abundant, nourishing fats which help the human body to better absorb its antioxidants and vitamins.
Pumpkin Custard Recipe
- 1 pie pumpkin (puree, about 2 cups)
- 9 pastured egg yolks (beaten)
- 2 cups heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized)
- 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 dash unrefined sea salt
- creme fraiche whipped cream or double cream, (preferably raw, to serve)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whisk pumpkin puree, nine beaten egg yolks, two cups heavy cream with one-half cup unrefined cane sugar, one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon, one-quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg, one teaspoon vanilla extract and a dash unrefined sea salt.
- Bring about two inches of water to boil in a double boiler or saucepan fitted with a bowl, and stir the custard continuously until thick enough to coat a spoon.
- Pour the thickened custard into a baking our souffle dish and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit about thirty to forty minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the custard’s center comes out clean.
- Serve warm with creme fraiche, whipped cream or double cream.