Words and Photos by Corinne Ognibene
Autumn is officially here and that means everyone who is forced to set their pumpkin obsessions aside for the greater part of the year is finally able to rejoice and embrace it once again. Nowadays, it may be hard to imagine a world before Pumpkin Spice Lattes but, believe it or not, the use of pumpkins as a dessert food may date all the way back to the first Thanksgiving (though it is more likely that it would have been used in a savory recipe). The first mention of pumpkin pie appears in the first American cookbook, “American Cookery,” published by Amelia Simmons in 1796; it was a recipe for Pumpkin Pudding Baked in a Crust. Since then, it seems America has welcomed pumpkin into their hearts and has never looked back. This pumpkin pudding, served in jack-be-little pumpkins, makes for a delicious and festive party food that would look great on any dessert platter. It’s also quite easy to make.
Pumpkin Pudding Ingredients:
6 small pumpkins (about 1/2 pound each)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 & 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree (I made my own, but you can certainly use a storebought version)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tops off pumpkins; scoop out and discard seeds.
In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture inside the hollowed pumpkins and replace pumpkin tops. Place on a baking sheet and bake until tender; 25 to 30 minutes. Then remove from oven and let cool.
Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a large heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add half-and-half, egg yolks, molasses, and salt. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to thicken; about 5 minutes. Add the water in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Stir in pumpkin puree; cook until very thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and strain once.
When ready to serve, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Serve pudding inside baked pumpkins, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.
***To make the Pumpkin Puree:
You will need one sugar pumpkin, about 1 ½ pounds.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp fork or knife, poke several slits in the pumpkin, piercing skin all the way through (this lets steam escape). Place the pumpkin in a baking dish, pour roughly 1 inch of water in the bottom of the dish. Bake until the skin is easily pierced and the inside is very soft, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours.
Cut off the top of the pumpkin, and scoop out seeds; discard both. Peel, and discard the skin. Place pumpkin in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Store the puree in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.