Pumpkin custard, like Maple Pecan Pie and Slow-Roasted Turkey, finds a place on my Thanksgiving table every November, and often throughout the winter too. Its luscious, velvety smooth texture and lovely pumpkin flavor that’s laced with aromatic spices makes a perfect dessert for cold winter nights.
Unlike many pumpkin custard recipes, this one skips all the cans and uses only wholesome, fresh ingredients like roasted pumpkin purée, real cream, egg yolks, spices and the lightest touch of maple for sweetness.
What makes a good pumpkin custard?
Pumpkin custards, like homemade root beer, are a quintessentially American dessert. And, if you’ve an interest, you can find references and recipes for them in just about every early American cookbook.
Pumpkins are indigenous to North America, and colonists quickly adopted traditional European recipes to their use – among them custards. Early recipes often call for sweetening pumpkin purée with molasses, flavoring it with aromatic spices, and baking the custard in the shell of a pumpkin.
More often than not, modern recipes rely on canned pumpkin purée, ample brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and premixed spices. But, you’ll find your results are better when you use fresh pumpkin purée rather than canned and enrich it with egg yolks, cream and just the lightest touch of maple sugar.
Pumpkin Custard Recipe
- 2 cups pumpkin purée (from 1 pie pumpkin)
- 9 egg yolks (beaten)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup maple sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- whipped cream (to serve)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, prepare a water bath by filling a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish half-way with water. Set the baking dish in the oven.
- Whisk pumpkin purée, egg yolks, cream, sugar and spices together in a large mixing bowl until uniformly blended.
- Strain the custard base through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any pulpy bits. And then, pour the custard base into 6 (6-oz) ramekins, and gently set them into the water bath. Bake until just set, about 40 to 50 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature, and serve with whipped cream.