If you’ve always liked the idea of traditional American pumpkin pie, but simply never became much of a fan, this Eastern version might be for you. The trick is to use fresh butternut squash instead of pumpkin for a richer texture as well as a more natural sweetness (with a little spice from the ginger), and because it’s dairy- and gluten-free, the overall texture is lighter. It’s a nice way to end a heavy meal, and if you really miss the richness from the dairy, you can always serve it with some fresh whipped cream on top!
Helwat al Yaktin
(Libyan Butternut Squash “Pudding” with Cinnamon,
Ginger, and Vanilla)
Yield: SERVES 8 / Makes eight 1/2-Cup servings
For Preparing Pan or Ramekins:
8-inch square or round baking or pie pan
(non-stick, glass, or ceramic preferable over metal)
2 to 3 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds fresh butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes,
(already peeled and cut cubes okay,
but please don’t substitute with frozen or canned purée)
1/2 cup vanilla or regular almond milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For Baking and Serving:
1 to 2 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil (for greasing the bowls or pan)
1/2 cup reserved cooked butternut squash cubes
(you will need about 8 small cooked cubes so that each serving
gets a piece on top)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; Grease pan generously with oil and set aside.
2. Warm oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Reduce to a medium-low heat and mix in the butternut squash cubes. Cover, and cook until very soft and slightly browned, about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
3. While the squash is cooking, whisk the milk, egg yolks, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.
4. Pour squash cubes into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Scrape the puree into the bowl with the liquid mixture and gently mix to combine.
5. Scrape mixture into your prepared baking pan, spreading it out with the spatula to make it even. Place pan onto the middle rack of your oven and bake 1 hour until center is slightly firm and edges are pulling away from the pan. (Note: Mixture will still be a bit soft to the touch — but not liquidy, and overall top color will turn a deep orangey-brown.) Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or overnight.
6. Serve cold sprinkled with cinnamon.