Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin, yummy pumpkin!

Canned, schmanned. No more canned pumpkin for me- I am a convert to fresh 'punkin' from now on. Is it cheaper or easier to use fresh pumpkin? Nope, but it is definitely worth the trouble, time, and expense. I bought a smallish pie pumpkin at Walmart last week and after cutting it in half and scraping out the guts I baked it until it was soft. It yielded a little over 3 cups of golden orange puree- not as dark as the canned stuff. I drained all the liquid that accumulated and put the mass through my food mill, trying to preserve as much as the texture as possible. Today I made my pie- or was it a tart? I always try to use good 'real' ingredients ( e.g., butter- never margarine) so I didn't want to use evaporated milk. Instead I used heavy cream- hey, I never said I ever scrimp on calories! I also wanted to get away from using white sugar so I used a combination of brown sugar, which adds a depth of flavor that white sugar doesn't have, and maple syrup- the real stuff, of course. All I have available to me is grade A syrup. One of these days I will break down and order a gallon of grade B dark amber- I can only imagine how much more flavor it has. So for each cup of puree I used 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, one egg (extra-large), and 1/2 cup of heavy cream. The ratio seems to have worked. Spices- for 3 cups of puree I used: 1 tsp. of cinnamon ( I used Vietnamese cinnamon which really packs a flavor punch unlike anything I have used before), 1/2 tsp. of ginger- maybe next time I will use a little more, 1/2 tsp or so of freshly grated nutmeg-don't EVER use the stuff in a can- there is no comparison, and 1/2 tsp of allspice. I started to use cloves but after comparing the two spices I found that the allspice was less overwhelming while still giving that traditional aroma I was looking for. I added 1 tsp. of Kosher salt and mixed everything together. Even though the mix had raw eggs in it I couldn't resist dipping a spoon over and over...I know, I know- salmonella, but hey, I live dangerously! The mixture would make heavenly ice cream if I can figure out a way to lightly cook it without destroying the texture and delicate flavors while sufficiently warming the eggs. I will work on that...

Since I have rarely ever made a pie crust that I have been happy with I turned to my stash of puff pastry sheets and lined a 9" tart pan with one. There was enough leftover filling to make 6 tarts in an over sized muffin tin, again using puff pastry for the crust. I baked everything at 350 until the filling was almost set. The puff pastry needed a little higher heat to encourage it to 'puff' so I turned the oven up to 400 for 15 or so minutes. Honestly I don't know how long I baked it but I think it was less than an hour. The tartlets cooked much quicker than the tart. They puffed up and were beautiful! I even got brave enough to ring my neighbor's doorbell at 8:00 at night and present them with 2 tarts- much to their surprise! What is the point in having all these gorgeous goodies if you can't share them??

So all in all the experiment went well. I think I have a workable recipe and if I can make a decent pie crust I can declare this a winner! Oh yes, and I finally found my camera so I actually have a picture to share!

Stay tuned for the pie crust cook-off....

1 comment:

  1. I love using fresh pumpkin but to be honest, it's hard to get canned pumpkin here!