Friday, October 02, 2020


Pumpkin is a very versatile vegetable. Hearty and rich, it is a lovely choice for both sweet and savoury dishes. It is very affordable, high in antioxidants and vitamin A, and all-round delicious in puddings and pies. And speaking of puddings, they will always have a special place in my heart, because the very first dessert I have ever learnt to make was a simple vanilla pudding. This pudding, however, is far from plain. Caramel base, fragrant roasted pumpkin purée, earthy vanilla, and some whipped cream for good measure guarantee a gorgeous autumnal dessert.
When it comes to the pumpkin purée, you can roast your own sweet pumpkin and then blend it until it is silky smooth, which is what I do; or you can use a shop-bought one, but do make sure it is unsweetened and that is not a pre-made pie filling.
If you choose to roast your own pumpkin, it is very easily done, and you can even add spices and flavourings to suit your wishes. Simply cut the pumpkin lengthwise, remove the seeds and strings, and place the halves, cut side down, on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Pierce it a few times with a sharp knife, and bake at 200°C for about 50 minutes to an hour, until tender and very fragrant. Let it cool down slightly, and blend it completely.
If you like, you can add a drop of dark rum to the pudding right before dividing it between dessert glasses. I find this adds a nice depth of flavour to it, especially because its sharp bite balances the richness of the pumpkin.

200 grams roasted pumpkin purée
70 grams cornflour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
small pinch of allspice
small pinch of salt
700 millilitres oat milk
100 grams granulated sugar
½ vanilla bean

Place the pumpkin purée, cornflour, and the dry spices in a blender, and blend them up completely. Pour in 300 millilitres of cold milk, and blend again. The batter will look almost like a smoothie. Heat up the rest of the milk so it is warm, and set it aside. Tip the sugar into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, and place it over medium high heat. Cook, without stirring, for about 5-6 minutes, or until deeply amber and fragrant. Do not stir it and do not leave it unattended, as it will burn easily. Remove the saucepan from the heat and very slowly and carefully add the remaining quantity of milk, whisking constantly. Keep in mind that it will bubble up quite a bit.
Scrape in the seeds from half of a vanilla bean, and return the saucepan to the heat. Keep whisking gently until the caramel dissolves into the milk, about 3 minutes or so. Once melted, let the caramel milk come to a simmer over medium heat, and then slowly, in a thin stream, whisk in the pumpkin mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and set it aside for a minute or two, just to let it cool down slightly. Divide it between six dessert glasses, lightly tap them to level them, cover the surface with cling film, and let it cool completely before serving. If desired, top with vegan whipped cream substitute or whipped coconut cream and extra dark chocolate shavings. Yields 6 servings.