What better way to celebrate the arrival of Fall’s cooler weather and seasonal flavors than to bake a warm, lightly spiced custard in a sugar pumpkin? This custard is not too sweet and not too spicy, with a pleasantly balanced flavor that perfectly complements the fragrant richness of the pumpkin. It’s also dairy-free!
I baked this dessert-in-a-pumpkin at a “campfire night” with friends. I had intended to let it cool to room temperature and then slice the pumpkin to serve. However, after enjoying a smoky but lively fire in cold, drizzly weather, we couldn’t wait to tuck into this warm, comforting treat. The pumpkin was barely out of the oven before spoons were diving in from all directions. Whether you scoop out individual portions for serving or just hand everyone a spoon and share this dessert family-style, make sure to scrape the inside of the pumpkin as you scoop up the custard, to get some soft, baked pumpkin in every bite.
Tips: Make sure to use the freshest eggs possible. I buy my eggs from a co-worker who raises hormone-free, free-range chickens on her farm. Our sugar pumpkin came from our CSA, but any small pie pumpkin or other sweet winter squash should work fine. Use the full-fat coconut milk, not the “light” or “lite” version, or your custard may not set up properly.
Vanilla Coconut Custard in a Sugar Pumpkin
6 large, organic, free-range eggs
1 (15-oz) can regular coconut milk (do not use “Lite”)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 small sugar or pie pumpkin (about 6″ to 7″ in diameter)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash and dry the pumpkin. Cut a lid into the pumpkin, holding the knife tip slightly angled toward the stem. Scoop out the seeds.
Combine all ingredients (except the pumpkin) in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and foamy, about 3 minutes. Pour the custard into the pumpkin, put the lid back on the pumpkin, and set the pumpkin on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake with the lid on for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 45 minutes or so, until custard is set. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature. Serves 8.