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Butternut Squash Pudding

I love pudding.  Chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, tapioca pudding, rice pudding, butterscotch pudding… you name it, I love it.  I love pudding made from scratch.  I love pudding that comes from a little cardboard box.  And when I was a kid, I loved the pudding on my school lunch tray.  So it should come as no surprise that I love this rich and creamy homemade butternut squash pudding – it’s pudding!  Plus, it’s amazing.

Some of the best recipes I’ve created have come not from my own imagination, but from suggestions by friends.  Remember the Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread? Alexis suggested it.  Lemon Vanilla Tapioca Pudding? I wouldn’t have thought about it if Ruby hadn’t given me those tapioca pearls.  Add this Butternut Squash Pudding to the list because it was totally not my idea.  A friend of mine suggested it almost as a joke, but as we talked about it, we quickly realized that it would be delicious.  And as soon as the name “butternutscotch pudding” was mentioned, I knew I had no choice but to create it.

The color and flavor of this rich, velvety pudding will remind you of butterscotch, but this is most definitely a butternut squash pudding.  If you love to eat winter squash with butter and brown sugar, you will love this pudding.  If you love pumpkin or sweet potato pie, you will love this pudding.  If you love butterscotch or vanilla pudding, you will love this pudding.  It’s absolutely delicious, it’s a fun and unique fall dessert, and it’s easy to make.  Do it.

Butternutscotch Pudding

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup roasted butternut squash purée*
2 cups half and half
pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and corn starch.  In the container of a blender, combine the squash purée, half and half, brown sugar mixture, pinch of salt, and egg yolks.  Blend until very smooth then strain through a fine mesh sieve into a medium-sized saucepan (rinse sieve because you will need it again later).

2. Cook the squash mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbly.  Turn heat to low, and continue cooking and stirring (now with a wooden spoon or spatula) for another minute or two – pudding should be thick but still pourable.  Immediately strain pudding through the sieve into a bowl, pushing it through with a spatula or wooden spoon.  Stir vanilla extract and butter pieces into the hot pudding until completely incorporated.

3. Let pudding cool to warm then either divide into individual containers or leave in bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until cold.  If you’re concerned about a skin from forming on top of the pudding, press plastic wrap to the surface before refrigerating.  Serve plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream and chopped pecans.

Yield: 3 cups of pudding (four 3/4-cup or six 1/2-cup servings).

Recipe Notes: *To roast a butternut squash:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  With a big sharp knife, cut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and place squash halves, cut side up, in a baking dish.  Cover with foil and roast for 40-50 minutes in a 400 degree oven until the squash is very tender (can be pierced easily with a fork).  When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop flesh from skin.  Mash it lightly and place in a strainer for a minute to let any excess liquid drain off.  Measure out 1 cup of squash for pudding recipe and reserve the rest for another use.

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