My favorite part of pumpkin pie is the filling, so I asked myself this morning, when pumpkin pie (and all other things Thanksgiving) cravings reached an uncomfortable peak, why bother with the crust? Not only is a pumpkin pie filling easy to put together, but I’ve been eating it as a custard treat every year at about this time, when all the filling doesn’t seem to fit into the pumpkin pie crust (what a tragedy, I know). And yet, I never seemed to put two and two together to realize that I could make pumpkin custard at any time of the year until Smitten Kitchen waved a delicious looking recipe for it in my face. Now, she may call it pudding, and top it off with sour cream, but really we’re both after the same thing: something blissfully simple that tempers those uncontrollable fall-food cravings. My version also takes some spice and honey inspiration from 5 Second Rule’s rectangular pumpkin pie recipe, but perhaps the biggest change is my complete neglect of pumpkin, which has been replaced by a delicious and very orange kabocha squash.
Kabocha Squash Custard
1 1/2 cups pureed kabocha squash (see recipe below)
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/3 cups milk (I used almond milk)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the squash, honey, butter, salt, and spices in a small pot and heat until bubbly. Since the mixture is rather thick, I tried to stir it quite often so that the squash mixture wouldn’t burn. Turn off the heat and slowly add the milk. Beat the eggs and add them to the squash mixture as well. Put 6-8 small oven-proof baking dishes, such as tiny canning jars, ramekins, or any other small glass dish on a baking sheet. Fill the dishes with the squash mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes. The custards are done when they jiggle only slightly when tapped and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Since I used almond milk, which is a good bit more watery than cow’s milk, I didn’t wait for a knife to come out clean and the custards were still wonderful.
Making a Kabocha Squash Puree
1 medium-sized kabocha squash
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the kabocha squash in half and take out the seeds. Lay the kabocha squash halves cut-side down in a glass baking dish. Pour about an inch of water into the glass baking dish. Bake the kabocha squash halves for about an hour, or until the flesh feels soft. After an hour, my kabocha squash flesh was so soft that I only mashed it with a fork, but you could also use a food processor to give it a smoother texture.