Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quick Pumpkin Custard with Maple Walnut Topping

I feel like I've been in a whirlwind of activity. I made this carrot cake into cupcakes for my grandmother's birthday, cut my hair supershort, had my favorite Mellow Mushroom pizza to date (Holy Shiitake pie omgggg), tailgated and watched my Gamecocks whup Missouri, and spent a day on the lake with wonderful friends. Phew. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but it definitely makes a girl guzzle pumpkin spice coffee.

I used to say I only liked pumpkin pie once a year, and that was on Thanksgiving. Um, things change. I'm the only one in my house that actually likes pumpkin pie, though, so what's a girl to do? Solution: Leave out the crust, make individual servings, and top with mapled walnuts. P.S. The compu-dictionary says mapled isn't a word. I say false. 

The pumpkin custard, which I don't think is a true custard, is stupidly easy. You need: pumpkin puree, brown sugar, egg, half & half, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, salt, and cinnamon.

It all goes into one big bowl. Your best tool is your favorite whisk.

It turns easily into this smooth filling.

Pour into two ramekins and bake in a water bath (bain marie if you're fancy) for about 50 minutes. To make the water bath, place the ramekins in a deep baking dish and set on the oven rack. Pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This will help the custards cook evenly and prevent cracking. Cool the custards on a wire rack and either use them or chill them.

While your custards are cooling, put together your walnut topping. You'll need: maple syrup, finely chopped walnuts, flaky sea salt...

And butter! You'll only need about half of this pat.

Toss the walnuts in a nonstick pan over medium heat.

Add the butter and let it melt over the walnuts.

Toss the walnuts in the butter to coat.

Add the maple syrup and salt. The syrup will bubble up and look a little violent, but it settles down. Again, toss the walnuts to coat them.

Cool your nuts in a cup! Or on a piece of wax paper. I think it's fun to have little clumps, and it's easy enough to break them apart with your fingers.

Sweet little pumpkin custard.

Sweet pumpkin custard and crunchy walnut topping. The walnuts are so necessary for textural contrast. Oh and if you added whipped cream? Well I wouldn't be mad at that.

Quick Pumpkin Custard with Maple Walnut Topping (makes 2 servings)

1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c half & half
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Scant 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Walnut Topping:
2 tbs finely chopped walnuts
1/4 tbs butter
1 tbs maple syrup
Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl whisk together pumpkin, half & half, brown sugar, egg, and spices until smooth. Divide mixture between two 6-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins in a deep baking dish and place the baking dish on the oven rack. Pour boiling water into the baking dish until it reaches about halfway up the ramekins. Bake 45-50 minutes or until custards are set in the middle.
  • Cool custards on a wire rack. If you do not plan to eat immediately, cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.
  • While custards cool, prepare walnut topping. Set a nonstick pan over medium heat and add the walnuts. Toast walnuts 2-3 minutes. Add butter and toss the walnuts to coat once butter has melted. Add maple syrup and sea salt. Toss to coat and let the syrup bubble up and thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Break up clumps of walnuts with your fingers and sprinkle over chilled custards. 

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