Squash for Dessert!?

Photo courtesy of Anaviv’s Table.  

Kabocha Squash Crème Caramel
Recipe by Anaviv’s Table Chef Kadie Vita
The chefs at Anaviv’s Table relish each season for the unique produce that becomes available. So if winter is making you feel a little blue, Chef Kadie Vita has the perfect antidote, this delicious Kabocha Squash Crème Caramel. Kabocha, a Japanese winter squash, offers a fluffy chestnut texture and sweet flavor reminiscent of sweet potatoes and pumpkins. You are in for a treat!
Serves 8
For the kabocha purée:
1 medium kabocha squash
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 eggs
2 yolks
For the custard:
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch each of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper
For the caramel:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325°
Cut the squash in half, clean out the seeds, and then roast the halves in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Let cool completely, then scoop the flesh into a blender and purée until smooth. Measure out 3/4 cup of this kabocha purée for this recipe. (You can freeze any excess in a freezer bag for up to six months.)
Whisk together the maple syrup, 4 whole eggs, and 2 yolks in a mixing bowl. Stir in the kabocha purée. Set aside.
Combine all custard ingredients in a large saucepan and cook gently over low-medium to low heat until steaming. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Slowly whisk the egg and kabocha purée mixture into the cream mixture, adding just a little at a time so the eggs don’t curdle. Set aside.
To prepare the caramel, place sugar in a small saucepan and gently heat until melted and golden brown by stirring with circular movements of the pan. Do not use a utensil; just swirl the pan as the sugar melts. Pour this caramel into a glass loaf pan or 9-inch glass pie pan. Allow to cool just enough to set, about 5 minutes, then pour in the custard mixture.
Reheat the oven to 325° and put on a kettle of water to boil. Set a shallow pan in the oven and partially fill with boiling water. Set the custard-filled glass pan into the pan of water and bake for 40–50 minutes or until just set. You will know the custard is done when there is only a slight jiggle in the center. Chill at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Loosen sides and turn out onto platter to serve, pouring the saucy caramel over top.
For more about Anaviv’s Table, read our current-issue story by Alix Wall: here