This special Thai dessert is spectacular to look at and wonderful to eat. Makes a great Halloween or Thanksgiving dessert recipe and a nice alternative to pumpkin pie. Don't be put off by the long baking time - it's actually a really easy recipe to make!
A small pumpkin (or pumpkin-like squash) is filled with an easy Thai custard -- a healthier and lower calorie version than traditional custard. Serve warm with a splash of maple syrup or brandy and a cup of strong tea or coffee.
- Wash and dry the pumpkin or squash. Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut a "lid" in the top, as you would do in order to carve a jack-o-lantern. Slice off the seedy part, so that you're left with a clean lid or hat. Set aside.
- Scoop out the seeds and "guts" of the pumpkin. Save seeds to roast, or discard.
- Break eggs into a large mixing bowl. Using a fork or whisk, beat by hand until fluffy (1 minute). Add the coconut milk, vanilla, and half the sugar. Beat again for 1 minute, or until well mixed.
- Add remaining sugar, stirring to dissolve into the egg mixture. Note: This may seem like too much sugar, but the custard does need to be sweet in order to compensate for the slightly bitter taste of the pumpkin/squash.
- Pour or ladle the egg mixture into the pumpkin. Tip: If you spill some on the outside of the pumpkin, wipe it away with a cloth. Fill to about 1/2 inch from the top of the rim. The egg mixture will rise a little out of the opening.
- Set pumpkin plus the "lid" (beside it) in a roasting pan (a metal or stainless steel roasting pan works well). Pour a little water (1/4 to 1/2 inch) into the bottom of the pan. Carefully place in oven. Bake 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, the lid should be cooked (soft). Remove from oven and set aside.
- After an hour, you should see the custard rising like a bubble out of the pumpkin. After 90 minutes, or when the custard appears firm, try inserting a long cake tester down into the custard - it should come out clean. If the custard hasn't set, or if the pumpkin/squash is still too firm to eat, return to oven and bake another 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes. Using your hands, lift pumpkin out and place on a plate. The pumpkin can be sliced and eaten when cool enough. Note: The custard may "drop" a little - this is normal.
- To serve, replace the lid of the pumpkin, or set it slightly askew so you can see the custard. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the pumpkin into slices and place them on serving plates (it is especially nice served warm). Pour a little maple syrup over each piece. If desired, you can also pour over a little brandy or other favorite liqueur. Another nice topping favorite of mine is caramel sauce. (note: the outside rind is not usually eaten unless very soft).
Guide's Response to User Review:
"I've tested and adjusted the recipe slightly to ensure the custard "sets" properly for everyone. The key to the custard setting is the type of coconut milk used. It should be good quality and quite thick (not "lite"). - Darlene Schmidt, Your Guide to Thai Food