I’ve named this a roasted butternut custard but as it contains no eggs or dairy, it’s definitely not one in the traditional sense of the term. It’s not faulted for that, though. This creamy dessert will provide all the holiday sweet and spiciness you could want without the refined sugar, unhealthy fats and refined grains that normally accompany this time of year. Roasting the squash accentuates its natural sugars so only a small amount of dates and maple syrup are needed to take it into dessert realm. I prefer the zip of fresh ginger over ground and dried, so that’s what made it into the recipe.
And the best part about this recipe? It’s just as delicious unbaked. Once the squash is roasted and all the ingredients are mixed together, the custard can be eaten without further baking (as the below recipe calls for). Like this, it’s light orange in color and possesses an airy texture akin to whipped cream. Moving forth with baking will produce a denser, sweeter custard…I couldn’t tell you which I prefer.
So why butternut squash instead of the season’s prolific pumpkin? Mostly because butternut squash harbors a smoother, creamier, more custardy nature. Pumpkin, when cooked, tends to be watery and stringy. Because of this, many canned varieties of pumpkin aren’t 100% pumpkin and actually contain winter squash, including butternut.
The custard is delicious eaten on its own, unadorned. But when is adornment necessary if not at Thanksgiving and Christmas? That’s why there are instructions below the recipe for layering the custard into a parfait.
For the parfait:
- 1 Recipe Roasted Butternut Custard (recipe below)
- 1 can Coconut Milk, cream only*
- Toasted Pecans and Pumpkin Seeds
- Dash of ground Cinnamon
In a small serving glass, smooth a large spoonful of custard over the bottom. Follow with a layer of thick coconut cream and a sprinkle of the nuts and seeds. Top with another layer of custard. To finish the parfait, dollop a portion of coconut cream onto the very center of the custard. Sprinkle the surface with a dash of cinnamon and a small amount of nuts and seeds.
Serve straightaway or refrigerate overnight then leave the parfait at room temperature an hour or 2 before serving.
*To separate the thick cream from the can of coconut milk, leave the unopened can in the fridge overnight. When using, open the can and spoon the thick cream off the top. Reserve the watery liquid on the bottom for soups, stews and smoothies.
- 425 grams Butternut Squash (about 1 medium)
- 1 can Coconut Milk, cream only*
- ¼ cup Dates, soaked in hot water at least 30 minutes
- ¼ cup Maple Syrup
- 2 Tbsp unrefined Coconut Oil, melted
- 1½ tsp ground Cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
- Seeds of 1 Vanilla Bean
- ¾ tsp Sea Salt
- Prep the butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 400℉/200℃. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Rub the cutside with a small amount of coconut oil. Place cutside down on a baking tray and roast in the oven until tender and starting to caramelize. This will take at least 40 minutes and possibly over an hour.
- Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool, scoop the flesh out of the skin and puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth.
- Prep the custard: Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃. Lightly coat a pie pan with a small amount of coconut oil.
- Drain the dates, reserving their soaking liquid, and puree in a food processor until smooth. You may need to add small amounts of the liquid to loosen the mixture enough to form a thick paste.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. This is the point where you can stop and eat the custard as is. Otherwise…
- Transfer the mixture to the prepped pan and bake 40-50 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking time. The custard will not be firm once baked, but will have darkened in color and the surface will crack. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.
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