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Coconut Custard Pie

Halloween has come and gone. Just like that. The costumes have been washed and packed away (though I think I’d put my baby in his monkey costume everyday if it were socially acceptable to do so). The candy has been picked over for the good stuff. (You know who I’m talking about, Almond Joy.) And the daily morning frost makes it feel more like winter than autumn. We’re on the fast track to Thanksgiving.
And with Thanksgiving comes one of my favorite meals of the year. Comfort food just doesn’t get much more comforting than Thanksgiving dinner. Savory stuffings, tart cranberry sauce, vegetables doused in cream, doughy buttered rolls, and pie. Sweet, delicious pie.
This recipe comes by request of a reader in search of a recipe for a graham cracker coconut crust to use for a fresh pumpkin pie. I decided to use my crust to make a seriously satisfying coconut custard pie, but this crust would also work beautifully with a fresh pumpkin coconut pie filling or any other filling you can dream up.
This recipe is written for use with a deep pie dish. If you have a more shallow pie dish, you will probably have some extra crust and custard. Spoon the extra custard into cups and top with some of the extra crust mixture for a tasty little treat!
Coconut Custard Pie
For the Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) melted butter (I use salted butter.)

For the Custard:

  • 3 cups milk*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
*If you’re looking to reduce the calorie and fat content, skim milk will work just fine!

Directions

To make the crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, brown sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a deep pie dish. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

To make the custard: Bring the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and cornstarch to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently so that the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Once the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, reduce the heat. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1/2 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, starting with a slow drizzle. (Gradually incorporating the hot milk into the egg yolks tempers the eggs, allowing them to slowly rise in temperature without scrambling.) Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Stir in the shredded coconut.

Pour the custard into the prepared crust. Cool for a few hours, until set.

Garnish with whipped cream and toasted coconut or crushed graham crackers before serving.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Got pumpkins?

Perhaps a few small ones destined for fresh pumpkin pie? Or maybe a great big one, awaiting its jack-o-lantern fate?

Whatever the case, save those seeds! Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, make a delicious and incredibly nutritious snack. Follow this simple step-by-step guide on how to roast your fresh pumpkin seeds.

Step 1: Use a spoon to scoop seeds from the pumpkin.

Step 2: Rinse the seeds under cool running water, while removing any stringy, orange pulp.

Step 3: Dry the seeds on a paper towel.

Step 4: Spread the seeds onto a baking sheet. Drizzle the seeds with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Move the seeds around to evenly distribute the oil and seasonings.

Step 5: Bake for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Enjoy!

You can have fun with the seasonings for your seeds. I prefer basic salt and pepper pepitas, but you may enjoy cinnamon sugar, parmesan cheese, garlic salt, or even chile flavored seeds!

Roasted Pumpkin Caramel Bisque

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I have a gray hair. One gray strand, on my otherwise brown head of hair.

I must be getting old.

It grows in. I pull it out. It grows in again. I pull it out again.

I’m not trying to abolish the nasty offender. I just want to take a closer look. It intrigues me. It’s a shimmery white.

Perhaps I’ll feel differently when that lonely strand of hair starts gathering friends, but for now I’m content to let my hair turn whatever shade of gray, silver, or white it chooses to be.

I’m quite comfortable with my age. I’m as comfortable to be turning 35 as I would be to turn 25. In fact, I might even like 35 better.

I’m comfortable with that gray hair on my head.

I’m comfortable with me (though I’d be even more comfortable with twenty pounds less of me).

Comfort is good.  It’s like a warm, cashmere sweater; one that’s three sizes too big so you can snuggle up within its soft embrace. Comfort is molten dark chocolate. It’s a warm, crackling fire. Comfort is this creamy roasted pumpkin caramel bisque. It’s slightly sweet, warm, and smooth. It smells like autumn and feels like a hug. Seriously…a great, big, warm hug.

Roasted Pumpkin Caramel Bisque

Ingredients

  • 2 pie pumpkins (3-4 pounds each) or about 7-8 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Salt (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup prepared caramel sauce/dip
  • A few dashes of cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions

To roast the pumpkins – Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pumpkins in half and scoop out all of the seeds and stringy pulp. Place the pumpkins cut side down on a baking sheet. Fill the baking sheet with about 1/4″ water. Bake for about 90 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool, then scoop out the tender insides. You should have about 8 cups of roasted pumpkin. Click HERE to see a photo guide on how to roast pumpkins.

To prepare the soup, heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender and golden. Add the roasted pumpkin (or pumpkin puree) and vegetable stock to the pan.

Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth or transfer the mixture in small batches to a blender or food processor to blend. Return the blended mixture to the saucepan and heat to a simmer. Stir in the half and half, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the salt gradually, to taste. Gradually stir most of the caramel into the soup, reserving a spoonful or two for garnish. (Taste as you go. The soup should be savory and slightly sweet.) Season with a few dashes of cayenne pepper, as desired.

Garnish with a drizzle of caramel and pumpkin seeds or top with crunchy croutons.

Makes a huge batch of soup…plenty for freezing!

How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin

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Welcome, October! Quite possibly my favorite month of the year. Well, maybe except for December.

Because December means Christmas. And Christmas makes me burst with happiness.

But October means beautiful changing leaves, my birthday, Halloween candy, warm sweaters, soft hoodies, and pumpkins; lots and lots of pumpkins!

As I write, there are a few pumpkins roasting in the oven, making my home smell like autumn. I’m working on a new pumpkin recipe today. Think fresh, roasted pumpkin with rich cream, and perhaps a touch of caramel. Oh, and it’s not a dessert! Look for it later this week.

In the mean time, I thought you may want to brush up on your procedure for preparing fresh pumpkin puree by taking a look back at my no-fuss step-by-step guide. Click HERE to begin your pumpkin journey.

You may also want to check out these delicious pumpkin recipes:

Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Autumn Harvest Buns

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfaits

Fettucine with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce 

Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Yesterday, we hacked our way into a pumpkin to prepare fresh pumpkin puree, with the promise of a fresh pumpkin coconut pie. Today, we eat pie. This is my mom’s recipe for fresh pumpkin pie. It is the pumpkin pie I grew up with. It is the pumpkin pie to which I compare all other pumpkin pies. That’s just how things are when you’ve grown up with them, sort of how I’m a loyal Crest toothpaste girl and shiver at the thought of any mayonnaise other than Hellman’s.

To me, this is pumpkin pie the way is should be. It’s light, fresh, and sweet. My mom always uses fresh pumpkin, but I wouldn’t fault you for substituting canned. It will still be quite delicious. The recipe works well with or without the coconut. I’m a coconut girl, through and through. It gives the pie a sort of half pumpkin, half coconut custard sort of feel. Spectacular!

And now, the pumpkin pie recipe you’ve been waiting for…

Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Pumpkin Puree (fresh or canned)*
  • 1 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (1 12-ounce can)
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar**
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Shredded, Sweetened Coconut (optional)
  • 1 9″ Deep-Dish Pie Shell (homemade or frozen)

* Click here for my photo guide on preparing fresh pumpkin puree.

**My mom’s recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, which produces an extremely sweet pie. I cut the white sugar to 1/2 cup, which still produces a deliciously sweetened pie.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Stir in the coconut, if desired. Place the pie shell on a foil lined baking sheet, to prevent oven spill-over. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.*  Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Lower the heat to 350 degrees. Continue cooking for 45-55 minutes, until the tip of a knife, inserted about an inch from the edge, comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool for about an hour. Then refrigerate to completely cool. Serve with whipped cream.

*You will probably have some leftover filling. Use it in individual pie shells to make mini pies or simply pour it in a ramekin or small baking dish and bake, for a little crustless pie.

How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin Puree

When it comes to Thanksgiving desserts, does it get any more classic than pumpkin pie?? Pumpkin is the bright orange star of autumn produce. They play a leading role in Halloween celebrations and an even tastier role at Thanksgiving. As far as I’m concerned, serve whatever other desserts you’d like on Thanksgiving, as long as there’s at least one pumpkin pie. So, in honor of our Thanksgiving Week here at The Gourmand Mom, we’ll be making a pumpkin pie, using my mom’s tasty recipe for Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie.

Like many families, we purchased several pumpkins to adorn our front steps throughout October. They lasted out there for a month, until one afternoon, we opened the door to find the remnants of what used to be the Frankenstein pumpkin. We were all a bit flummoxed upon finding the remains. The boys were devastated. What horrific event could have caused the brutal destruction of our little pumpkin; so thoroughly ravaged on our front steps. We all felt a bit violated. But, my husband dutifully cleaned up the remains and we did our best to put the past behind us. And then, the very next day, the vicious pumpkin villian returned.

Let’s just call him Squirrely. Squirrely stood there on our front steps, staring at me with his beady little eyes, looking all cute with his fluffy tail. And then he strutted himself over to the next largest pumpkin, and shamelessly went to work. So strong was his passion for pumpkin, that he worked diligently at his task for at least an hour, as we all stood staring in awe. Squirrely was clearly a master of pumpkin. To his credit, he waited a month before devouring our decor.

Clearly, I wouldn’t be using any of those pumpkins to make my pumpkin pie. Luckily, our grocery store is well-stocked with pumpkins. For the purpose of making pumpkin puree for pies or other pumpkin desserts, your best bet is to pick up a Pie Pumpkin or Sugar Pumpkin. They are smaller and will produce a less watery, more flavorful result. When my mom prepares the pumpkin for her pies, she typically prepares the puree in a similar fashion to mashed potatoes. She cuts the pumpkin into chunks, removes the skin, boils, then mashes. It’s a technique which has always worked well for her. However, an easier alternative to chopping a hard pumpkin into pieces and removing all of the skin is to roast the pumpkins. Once roasted, the tender insides will scoop out with ease. Here is a step by step guide on how to prepare fresh pumpkin puree by roasting.

1. Thoroughly rinse the pumpkins.

2. Ideally, cut the pumpkins in half, from the stem to the base. However, if you happened to purchase the world’s hardest pumpkins or perhaps left your pumpkins in the freezing car overnight, you may have to settle for simply sawing and prying off the top. After trying every one of my very sharp knives on my stubborn pumpkins, I considered inviting Squirrely inside to help. (He clearly knows how to get inside a pumpkin.) Seriously, a hacksaw wouldn’t have cut through my pumpkins. But, eventually I managed to wrestle the tops off. Don’t worry, if you can not manage to cut your pumpkins in half, rest assured that the  pumpkins will roast just as well with only the tops removed.

3. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to remove all of the seeds and stringy parts from the pumpkin. Save the seeds for roasting.

4. Place the pumpkin upside down on a baking sheet (cut sides down, if you were able to cut your pumpkin in half). Fill the bottom of the baking sheet with a thin (1/4 inch) layer of water.

5. Roast at 375 degrees for about 90 minutes. Test by inserting a fork into the inside of the pumpkin. It should be quite tender. Allow to cool.

6. Scoop out the tender insides.

7. Use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender to puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

** Two small Pie Pumpkins should produce about 3-4 cups pumpkin puree.

If you’re preparing fresh pumpkin puree, be sure to roast the seeds separately for a tasty snack. I seriously ate so many pumpkin seeds yesterday that I’m beginning to suspect I may be sprouting a pumpkin in my belly. They are a delicious and highly nutritious snack.

To roast the pumpkin seeds: Rinse the seeds and separate from the stringy pumpkin pieces. Discard the stringy pieces. Lay the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a paper towel to dry. Spread the seeds onto a baking sheet. Toss with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake in a 375 degrees oven for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for the recipe for Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie, coming up next!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

The kids and I cook together quite a bit. In fact, I can’t enter the kitchen these days without my three year old on my toes, shouting, I want to help! I want to help! As you may imagine, the more we cook together, the more smoothly our cooking adventures tend to go. The boys understand the lay of the land in the kitchen. Mostly. Wildly running their hands through a floured table is still irresistible to them. But, for the most part, our cooking moves along smoothly. They mix, they measure, they stir, they smell, they taste. We move along like a well-oiled kitchen brigade. Until I handed my three year old a ramekin of eggs, mistakenly assuming that he’d pour them into the mixing bowl, as he’d poured in the oil and water. Rather, he inserted his hands into the dish of raw eggs and attempted to pick one up. I’ve never seen such an adorably puzzled reaction. I guess we’ve still got a few things to work on.

This recipe is a little unplanned extra for the week. I ended up with a bunch of leftover pumpkin puree, which would have been a pity to waste. So, I stuck it in the fridge while I waited for pumpkin inspiration. Then, after passing a loaf of pumpkin bread in the grocery store, it occurred to me that I could use my leftover pumpkin in exactly the same way I use my leftover, over-ripe bananas! I went straight to my favorite banana bread recipe and made a few tiny adjustments; a little extra sugar to account for pumpkin not being as naturally sweet as bananas, a little extra cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg. Adding chocolate was a no-brainer for me. The resulting bread is sweet, delicious, and seasonly perfect.

We’ll be making this recipe again next week, in muffin form, for my little guy’s nursery school Halloween party! To make as muffins, follow the same recipe, but reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

Adapted from my recipe for Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 3/4 cup Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Chunks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan by greasing and lightly flouring the bottom and sides. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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