Now that snow has finally arrived (and then promptly disappeared), it officially feels like winter. I still can’t believe I was still able to bike around Toronto (safely, sans snow, sans grizzly subzero wind) into the first week of December! Now I am on a quest to find a sustainable activity for the winter… preferably of the indoor variety.
I made this pumpkin custard for dessert for Thanksgiving, and it was great. A nice mix of pumpkin with traditional flavours like cinnamon, ginger and cloves. It was very rich with the cream. After a filling meal, we found the ramekin portions to be a bit too big. Very delicious, but better in small quantities. My suggestion would be to use smaller ramekins, which would yield more portions (halving the recipe might be better then).
The recipe was adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts, by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. I bought the book after making the most delicious cake, ever (Stone Fruit Tea Cake on gourmet.com), and will likely post that recipe eventually as well. In the meantime, this custard is a good start.
Pumpkin Custard with Cookie Crumb Crust
1-1/4 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
2 cups half-and-half
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 cups pureed cooked pumpkin or 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Divide the crushed cookie crumbs among eight 5-oz ramekins.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the half-and-half to a light simmer over medium heat. Whisk the eggs and yolks together in a bowl, then whisk in both sugars and the molasses. Slowly pour the hot half-and-half into the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Stir the pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla together in a large bowl. Slowly add the egg mixture, whisking just enough to combine ingredients (this will keep air bubbles to a minimum which contributes to a creamier texture when baked).
3. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a 6-cup bowl, then strain the custard. (I skipped this when I realized I was straining out my pumpkin!). Distribute the custard evenly among the ramekins, filling them almost to the top. Place a large roasting pan on the centre rack of the oven, put the ramekins in the roasting pan, and carefully add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
4. Bake the custard for 50-60 minutes, or until puffed slightly on the edges and almost set when jiggled. Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan and place on a wire rack. Cool completely on the rack before covering lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours and up to 2 days. Leftovers will last up to 4 days.
Serves 8 (more like 16 if you use smaller ramekins)