Chocolate Pumpkin Custard

dairy-free, egg-free, soy free, gluten-free, flour-free

This time of year, I simply cannot walk past the farmers market or a farm stand without getting a sugar pumpkin. Soon enough, I am looking at a fridge overflowing with pumpkin puree and it’s at this point that I turn to this recipe to make a smooth delectable treat that comes together quickly.

You can make your own pumpkin puree by roasting a sugar pumpkin in the oven. Simply wash the outside of a sugar pumpkin, split it open, scoop out the seeds (you can roast them separately at 375F with olive oil and spices for about 10-15 minute until light brown and crispy). Scoop any slimy parts. Place the halves face down on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven, at 375 for about 30-45 minutes (depending on size). You’ll know the pumpkin is done when you can easily pierce it with a fork. Remove the outside skin (and add to your compost pile), add the inside to a food processor and process until smooth.

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup unsweetened non dairy milk (I use oatmilk)
1/2 cup packed, pitted Medjool dates*
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 tsp agar powder
1 tsp arrowroot or tapioca powder or potato starch
1 tsp cinnamon**
1/4 tsp nutmeg**
1/4 tsp cloves**
1 tbsp vanilla, ideally the non-alcoholic variety (yes, tablespoon)
1.4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C and fill a tea kettle with water.

In a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Very smooth – be sure the dates are well processed.

Prepare 6-10 ramekins (depending on the size you have) and a baker or two to fit them inside. They will need to rest flat inside the baker. You’ll need the baker for the Bain Marie. I won’t give detailed instructions on how to do a Bain Marie because there is no end to the tutorials to be found online and if you’ve watched a few episodes of the Great British Baking Show, you’ve seen someone lose their spot by doing it incorrectly, so now you know what not to do.

Bring the kettle to a boil.

Once the custard is smooth, pour or scoop into ramekins, filling about 2/3 of the way. Place the ramekins into the baker and then place into the oven on a rack you’ve pulled out just far enough that you can add water to the space inside the baker and outside the ramekins being very careful not to get water into the ramekins that are standing inside. Very gingerly move the baker into the oven and close the door.

Bake for 28-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the ramekins from the baker onto a cooling rack (I usually do this with a set of silicone lined tongues). Once the ramekins have cooled, place them in the fridge.

We’ve eaten these straight out of the oven, before they even set and the texture is soft. Once they’ve set, they will be closer to the texture of a pumpkin pie, which is where I think I first got the idea of combining pumpkin and chocolate and setting it as a custard.

* If you cannot find Medjool dates, you can use Deglet but you’ll have to soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes. Do this while you get the rest of the ingredients into the food processor.

** If you’ve never bought your spices in bulk, I highly recommend that you find a store near you. You’ll smell the difference once you open the jar and then taste it in the finished dessert.