Twice-baked “pumpkin pie” made with Sweet Dumpling squash from the farmer’s market in Healdsburg, California

Even though I’ve been taking a break from this blog to develop my new culinary viewpoint (coming soon), I wanted to share with you the “pumpkin pie” I created this year for Thanksgiving. I’ve been creating pumpkin recipes for about ten years now and each year they get simpler and more delicious. This one tops them all.

I’m calling this “pumpkin pie” in quote marks because it tastes like pumpkin pie in your mouth, but it’s sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy free (no eggs or cream, just a bit of butter you can leave out if you want). So it’s not really a standard pumpkin pie by definition, but your taste buds will be very happy.

It starts with a squash called “Sweet Dumpling.” If you can find this squash where you live, it’s the best squash. It’s very smooth and creamy and SWEET. So no added sweetener of any kind is needed. If you can’t find it, try Delicata or Carnival or even butternut squash, but if you can get Sweet Dumplings, this is the best one.

I’m just going to tell you how to make this instead of writing a recipe, because you have to make it by taste. I can’t give you amounts because I don’t know how much squash you’ll be making.

So here it is.

Cut your squash in half north-to-south, scrape out the seeds and place the squash halves cut side up in a baking pan. Put them in the oven and turn the oven on to 350 degrees F. Bake for about an hour, until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.

Let squash cool until you can handle it without burning your fingers. While the squash is still warm, remove the meat with a teaspoon, being careful to keep the skin intact so you can use it as the “crust” (it’s not edible but will serve to hold the “filling”). Set the shells aside to be filled later.

Put the cooked squash in a bowl and mix-and-mash with a fork until it is smooth.

Now here’s the tasting part. First add vanilla extract (or vanilla bean) until you get the amount of vanilla that tastes right to you. I like the amount where I can just taste the vanilla without it being overwhelming.

Then add pumpkin pie spices—cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves (or mixed pumpkin pie spice)—to suit your taste. I like using the individual spices because I really like to taste the cloves and allspice. But suit your taste.

And then add softened or melted butter and mix until it has the right mouth feel. Or omit the butter altogether or use another fat that you prefer.

When your filling is all yummy, cut the reserved shells in quarters (if Sweet Dumplings) and then pile the filling inside. Place them in a baking dish and bake them again until the filling is warm. This is just for temperature, not to make it brown.

Remove filled squash from the oven, place each one on a plate, and sprinkle with raisins. I used a raisin “medley” I found at the farmer’s market.

Serve immediately.

Oh, and I wanted to scatter chopped walnuts on top and around on the plate but I forgot to do that before I took the photo. So you can do that if you want, or use any other nuts, or a mix of different varieties of nuts or no nuts at all.

We’re actually having apple crisp for Thanksgiving made from whatever variety of heirloom apples I can gather up. We’re having this pumpkin pie in advance tonight, so I can give the instructions to you.


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