From the pages of my cookbook Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana, this recipe for Stuffed Pumpkin Bread Pudding is reason enough to celebrate Halloween. Treat yourself and your family to this delicious dessert. Enjoy!
I am not especially skilled at Halloween recipes. I just can’t get excited about spider cookies or eyeball cupcakes, so I usually defer to my wife Roxanne’s creative hand in the kitchen for those ghostly treats. But, with a neighborhood Halloween wrap party coming up, I’m up for the challenge. This past week at the produce market when I saw the stack of pumpkins, I decided to come out of my Halloween hiding place for a festive dish.
I decided to turn my beautiful pumpkin into a vessel of sweetness using a classic Creole recipe. Bread pudding is a standard Louisiana dish, and you are hard-pressed to visit any restaurant and not find a signature version at the top of the dessert offerings. As well, home cooks know the trick of turning day-old French bread into a spectacular dessert.
The pulp of a pumpkin is a perfect enhancement to the cream, eggs and spices that go into the typical custard, so this dish should be fairly simple to execute. That said, the only time I’ve actually carved a pumpkin was in grade school, so with a sturdy, sharp paring knife in hand, I began the first surgical incision.
A large mature pumpkin requires a little elbow grease to get through the top, but the hollow inside is easy going if you use your hands. Pulling the pumpkin membrane, seeds and other slimy mess out is actually quite fun and a bit therapeutic. It comes out easily, and you are left with a hollow vessel. Spooning out the limited amount of useable pulp of the pumpkin is a pain, so I opted for easy-to-find, 100% pure, canned pumpkin puree – a real timesaver.
This is one recipe not to be scared of, so get in the festive spirit and make this easy dessert as a sweet end to your Halloween night.
- 1 cup bourbon
- 4 tablespoons dark sugarcane molasses, such as Steen’s
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 large pumpkin (4-6 pounds)
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 8 large eggs
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup sugarcane syrup, such as Steen’s
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin puree, such as Libby’s
- ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- 12 cups cubed day-old bread, brioche or French
- Non-stick spray
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds, shelled and toasted
- Cookie garnish
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add the bourbon and bring to a simmer. Add the molasses and combine. In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and corn starch and add to the pan with the bourbon. With a wire whisk, begin stirring in the milk. Increase the heat to high and whisk while the sauce thickens. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and continue to whisk until it comes to the desired thickness. If it is too thick, add a bit more milk. Remove from the stove and keep warm.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- With a sharp knife, plunge into the top of the pumpkin and carve a large round hole to expose the inside of the pumpkin. Reserve the top stemmed portion.
- Reach inside – use your clean hands, it’s fun – and pull out the membrane, seeds, and pulp, and discard. Scrape the inside with a spoon rendering the pumpkin as clean as you can.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the milk, cream and vanilla. Make a custard by bringing the mixture to a simmer, slowly adding it to and tempering the eggs while whisking until combined. Add the butter, sugar, and syrup, and cook on low until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the spices along with the canned pumpkin puree. Stir while adding the toasted pecans and combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the bread and pour over the custard mixture. Make sure that all the bread is soaking in the liquid and let rest for 1 hour until the bread has absorbed all the liquid.
- In a large baking pan coated with non-stick spray, add the bread mixture. Place the pan in a water bath by pouring hot water into a larger roasting pan to about a quarter of the way up the sides of the bread pudding pan. Place in the oven and bake uncovered just until the mixture begins to set, approximately 45 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out pumpkin. Place the top back onto the pumpkin and move to a large cookie sheet. Put the pumpkin into the hot oven and bake the pudding for ½ hour more. Remove and keep warm.
- Present the bread pudding inside the pumpkin vessel, and serve by scooping it into coffee cups or small bowls. Spoon out a generous portion of the pudding and garnish with a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds and a cookie to scoop up the creamy pudding. Pour over the warm bourbon molasses cream sauce.
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