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).