Pumpkin Caramel Custards

He walked in Jesus-like. Short, slender, brown-haired, he spoke softly and filled the space with calm. We didn’t know much about him but found ourselves listening as if he voiced ancient wisdom. He joined us one Thanksgiving and dined on a roasted sweet potato. When it was time for pie, he chose only the pumpkin and taught us to make a wish every time we took the first bite.

He listened to “The Big Guy,” shaved his head and traveled to India where he taught reading and computer skills. He lived near Delhi for a few years in a one-room, cement-floored flat with a single cold tap. He slept on a reed mat and stewed dal in a pressure cooker on a hot plate. He drifted back, and now he hovers between East and West.

Each Thanksgiving whether I choose to put my pumpkin in a pie or a caramel custard—whenever I cut that first wedge and take the first bite—I remember him. I make my wish and breathe a meditation for peace.

Pumpkin Caramel Custards

(Mini-pies without the crust)

3 ½ oz. (1/2 cup) granulated sugar + a pinch of salt

8 oz. (1 cup) canned pumpkin

2 eggs

3 ½ oz. (1/2 cup packed) light brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/16 teaspoon clove, allspice

freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 cup cream

½ tablespoon dark rum (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger (optional)

Warm 5 or 6 small ramekins or custard cups. To make the caramel heat a small, heavy skillet and sprinkle in ½ cup granulated sugar and pinch of salt. Do not stir the sugar. Within three minutes, it should begin to melt. Within the next two to three minutes the sugar will turn into a molten, amber syrup. Tilt the pan from side to side to encourage even coloring, but refrain from stirring. Once the sugar is dark enough (test a drop on a white saucer), spoon it into the warm ramekins or custard cups, tilting them to cover the bottom surface.

Add a little water to the remaining caramel in the skillet and simmer to a syrup for a final garnish.

Beat the eggs into the pumpkin followed by the sugar, spices, salt, vanilla and rum. Stir in the cream and optional candied ginger. Divide the custard among the caramel-lined custard cups.

Preheat the oven to 350º and bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place the custard cups in a shallow roasting pan and pour in boiling water to the depth of ½ inch to form a bain marie. Place the filled roasting pan in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the custard puffs, sets and turns shiny. (Longer baking makes the custard easier to remove from the cups for serving.) Remove from the oven and lift the cups from the water bath.

Chill the custards at least 8-24 hours before unmolding. Loosen the edges with a sharp knife. invert each cup onto a small dessert plate and shake until the custard drops onto the plate. If it is stubborn, dip the bottom of the cup in a bowl of hot water. Pour over a spoonful of reserved caramel syrup if desired. Unmolded custards may be refrigerated in a covered plastic box for 5-6 days.

Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at Amazon.com    http://amzn.to/9lOnZv

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One Response to “Pumpkin Caramel Custards”

  1. jodie steiner Says:

    Was just looking for this recipe and did not find it in your book!! Hurray!

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