Crustless milk and cardamom “pumpkin pie”

kabocha

I’ve never been a big fan of pumpkin pie. To me they’re chalky and mushy in texture and overly spiced in flavour and yet they lack any depth or richness. This year I had a gluten intolerant guest coming to Thanksgiving, so I wanted to create something he could eat too.

This dessert is impressive looking yet it’s really simple to make. The custard inside is creamy and silky smooth (like chawanmushi or silken tofu). The cardamom, nutmeg and orange peel give it a warm slightly floral aroma that is vaguely reminiscent of a more traditional pumpkin pie and yet has more depth and character. The pumpkin shell adds its own nutty sweetness and the firm fleshy texture gives the dessert structure.

I like to serve this cold so it holds its shape, but you could certainly serve it warm in a bowl. The first night I poured some grade B maple syrup on top along with some freshly grated nutmeg, but you could also serve it with acacia honey and cinnamon. The second night I sprinkled some sugar on top and got the blowtorch out to give it a crisp burnt sugar crust on top.

Crustless milk and cardamom “pumpkin pie”

1 small pumpkin (such as kabocha or small sugar pumpkin)
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 C milk
7 green cardamom pods smashed
1 whole nutmeg seed (or 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg)
orange peel
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs

Thoroughly wash the outside of the pumpkin then cut a round hole in the top around the stem. Lift the “lid” off and use a spoon to scrape all the seeds and stringy stuff from the inside surface of the pumpkin and lid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill the bottom of a large pot with about 1/2″ of water and place a steamer basket at the bottom. Put the pumpkin on top and make sure the pot lid will close (don’t worry about the lid to the pumpkin, you can cook it on the side).

Combine the two types of milk in a saucepan and gently heat until you see steam rising (but not boiling). Turn the heat down as low as it will go then add the cardamom, nutmeg and orange peel and steep for 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the spices to continue steeping in the milk until the milk is lukewarm (about 10 minutes).

Whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs together then whisk this into the milk mixture. Use a fine mesh sieve to strain the mixture straight into the pumpkin leaving about 1/2″ of room at the top. Depending on the size of your pumpkin you may not be able to fit all the custard.

Cover the top of the pumpkin with a piece of foil to prevent moisture from getting in the custard and put the pumpkin lid next to the pumpkin. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook for about 1 hour. You might want to test it at 50 minutes. You can do this by sticking a knife in the custard (if it comes out clean it’s set), you’ll also want to make sure the pumpkin is cooked.

When the custard is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool with the lid off until it is cool enough to lift out of the pan. Cool to room temperature then put it in the fridge for a few hours to set. Serve by slicing wedges and plating.

  • http://www.zoebakes.com/ Zoë François

    This is brilliant! I always think of it as an Asian dessert with coconut milk! It never occurred to me to use it this way! Love it!!!

  • http://www.zoebakes.com Zoë François

    This is brilliant! I always think of it as an Asian dessert with coconut milk! It never occurred to me to use it this way! Love it!!!

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    I agree! Brilliant! Very creative Marc (sorry to repeat myself!)…the presentation is fantastic.

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    I agree! Brilliant! Very creative Marc (sorry to repeat myself!)…the presentation is fantastic.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    This was my favorite among the ones you served (naturally…) :) Just so crazily imaginative and beautiful :)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    This was my favorite among the ones you served (naturally…) :) Just so crazily imaginative and beautiful :)

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/recipes/lemon-garlic-lamb-rack-mint-sauce/ Christie @ fig&cherry

    Outstanding! You’ve totally taken culinary creativity to the next level.

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/recipes/lemon-garlic-lamb-rack-mint-sauce/ Christie @ fig&cherry

    Outstanding! You’ve totally taken culinary creativity to the next level.

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com/ Tartelette

    Made your Gyudon the other night and we loved it! This looks great Marc! Love the presentation!
    I forgot to reply about the link you sent me for the persimon post. I unfortunately saw it too late for the deadline but thanks for thinking about it!

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com Tartelette

    Made your Gyudon the other night and we loved it! This looks great Marc! Love the presentation!
    I forgot to reply about the link you sent me for the persimon post. I unfortunately saw it too late for the deadline but thanks for thinking about it!

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather

    The thing I really love about this is that it eliminates the crappy crust-making part of the “pie”, and leaves just the creamy custard interior. Which I love. It’s also gorgeous.

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    The thing I really love about this is that it eliminates the crappy crust-making part of the “pie”, and leaves just the creamy custard interior. Which I love. It’s also gorgeous.

  • http://madehealthier.com/ Lori

    This looks like a great dessert, and it makes a really nice presentation!

  • http://madehealthier.com Lori

    This looks like a great dessert, and it makes a really nice presentation!

  • http://chriseatskyoto.blogspot.com/ Chris

    Marc,

    I just posted a reply to your question (at the KyotoFoodie website) about ceramic knives. I don’t know if you get comments and stuff, so here’s the link.

    http://kyotofoodie.com/sardine-meatballs-iwashi-tsumire-iri-miso-udon/#comment-2600

    The short answer… don’t.

  • http://chriseatskyoto.blogspot.com/ Chris

    Marc,

    I just posted a reply to your question (at the KyotoFoodie website) about ceramic knives. I don’t know if you get comments and stuff, so here’s the link.

    http://kyotofoodie.com/sardine-meatballs-iwashi-tsumire-iri-miso-udon/#comment-2600

    The short answer… don’t.

  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com/ peter

    Marc, I’m so glad you shared this recipe. I’m bookmarking this and surely to be attempted…bravo!

  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com peter

    Marc, I’m so glad you shared this recipe. I’m bookmarking this and surely to be attempted…bravo!

  • http://www.penangtuapui.com/ PenangTuaPui

    Brilliant! and smart….. ppl will surprise when u serve them the whole pumpkin…. hee hee..

    nice try.. will get my team mate to work on it, thanks.

  • http://www.penangtuapui.com PenangTuaPui

    Brilliant! and smart….. ppl will surprise when u serve them the whole pumpkin…. hee hee..

    nice try.. will get my team mate to work on it, thanks.

  • http://laptopsandstovetops.blogsopt.com/ Rachel ‘Tha Pizza Cutta’ Joyce

    A total culinary feat! Completely amazing alternative. BELLISIMO!

  • http://laptopsandstovetops.blogsopt.com Rachel ‘Tha Pizza Cutta’ Joyce

    A total culinary feat! Completely amazing alternative. BELLISIMO!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    That is fantastic…I am complaining about peeling onions, and you are sweating over scooping out little pumpkins! I love it!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com Chef E

    That is fantastic…I am complaining about peeling onions, and you are sweating over scooping out little pumpkins! I love it!

  • We Are Never Full

    wow. this puts me to shame! i don’t think i could create a dessert this beautiful. the picture is stunning and i’m sure the flavor was excellent!

  • We Are Never Full

    wow. this puts me to shame! i don’t think i could create a dessert this beautiful. the picture is stunning and i’m sure the flavor was excellent!

  • http://foodwithkidappeal.com/ jenna @ foodwithkidappeal

    i am absolutely speechless about how amazing that dish looks, i wish i had a spoon and could grab a bite right from the screen!

  • http://foodwithkidappeal.com jenna @ foodwithkidappeal

    i am absolutely speechless about how amazing that dish looks, i wish i had a spoon and could grab a bite right from the screen!

  • http://food-4tots.blogspot.com/ lk

    What a co-incidence! I had also made this pumpkin dessert. I only steamed it for 25 mins but no baking. Yours look absolutely marvellous! Beautiful photos!

  • http://food-4tots.blogspot.com lk

    What a co-incidence! I had also made this pumpkin dessert. I only steamed it for 25 mins but no baking. Yours look absolutely marvellous! Beautiful photos!

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  • http://mikes-table.themulligans.org/ Mike

    I know what you mean about the “usual” pumpkin pies out there and this looks like an incredible twist on it. I really love the presentation–very dramatic!

  • http://mikes-table.themulligans.org/ Mike

    I know what you mean about the “usual” pumpkin pies out there and this looks like an incredible twist on it. I really love the presentation–very dramatic!

  • http://chefsgonewild.blogspot.com/ Zenchef

    This is a stunning dessert. I’m still wondering how you made it look so beautiful. Great job!

  • http://chefsgonewild.blogspot.com Zenchef

    This is a stunning dessert. I’m still wondering how you made it look so beautiful. Great job!

  • http://dineanddish.net/ Kristen

    This is so cool! What a neat dessert.

  • http://dineanddish.net Kristen

    This is so cool! What a neat dessert.

  • http://vindelatable.blogspot.com/ Vin de la Table

    Oh my god! This is gorgeous, and I love the idea of using cardamon in the pumpkin. I think I’d drink it with an Auslese Riesling, near a fireplace.

  • http://vindelatable.blogspot.com Vin de la Table

    Oh my god! This is gorgeous, and I love the idea of using cardamon in the pumpkin. I think I’d drink it with an Auslese Riesling, near a fireplace.

  • Marc

    Thanks Zoë, Peter, Mark, & Christie!

    Tartelette, glad you liked the gyudon:-) I’ll see recipe requests from time to time on the list, so I’ll send along any that look relevant.

    Heather, yea I guess I could have just been honest and called it “lazy-mans pumpkin pie”:-) I was going to make an apple pie too, but skipped it due to the crust making effort.

    Thanks Lori

    Chris, thanks for the info on the ceramic knives. I guess I’ll stick to my Wusthof.

    Peter, I think there’s lots of different flavoring opportunities if you want to play with it, maybe one with Greek yogurt?

    Thanks PenangTuaPui & Chef E!

    We Are Never Full, now you know how I feel when I look at the inspired creations on your blog:-P

    Thanks Jenna, ik, Mike, Zenchef, and Kristen.

    Vin de la Table, thanks for the wine pairing suggestion. I don’t have a fireplace but I’m going to have to look for some Auslese Riesling next time I’m at USQ wines.

  • Marc

    Thanks Zoë, Peter, Mark, & Christie!

    Tartelette, glad you liked the gyudon:-) I’ll see recipe requests from time to time on the list, so I’ll send along any that look relevant.

    Heather, yea I guess I could have just been honest and called it “lazy-mans pumpkin pie”:-) I was going to make an apple pie too, but skipped it due to the crust making effort.

    Thanks Lori

    Chris, thanks for the info on the ceramic knives. I guess I’ll stick to my Wusthof.

    Peter, I think there’s lots of different flavoring opportunities if you want to play with it, maybe one with Greek yogurt?

    Thanks PenangTuaPui & Chef E!

    We Are Never Full, now you know how I feel when I look at the inspired creations on your blog:-P

    Thanks Jenna, ik, Mike, Zenchef, and Kristen.

    Vin de la Table, thanks for the wine pairing suggestion. I don’t have a fireplace but I’m going to have to look for some Auslese Riesling next time I’m at USQ wines.

  • http://nutritiontokitchen.wordpress.com/ Nutrition to Kitchen

    SO creative! This is the cutest dessert I’ve seen yet – I love anything pumpkin and I love creme brulee. Cheers to you! :)

  • http://nutritiontokitchen.wordpress.com Nutrition to Kitchen

    SO creative! This is the cutest dessert I’ve seen yet – I love anything pumpkin and I love creme brulee. Cheers to you! :)

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    That looks so good! Great presentation in the sliced pumpkin!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    That looks so good! Great presentation in the sliced pumpkin!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    That looks so good! Great presentation in the sliced pumpkin!

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  • Liz Peterson

    I love the way this dessert is presented. I work at our state fair in Minnesota in the Vegetable & Potato judging department. I am not familiar with Kabocha pumpkins. From what I have found, butternut squash is the closest, but that doesnt look like what you have in this picture. Are there any other varieties you would reccomend, or would the green skinned variety work as well? Thanks so much! love your work!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabocha

  • Liz Peterson

    I love the way this dessert is presented. I work at our state fair in Minnesota in the Vegetable & Potato judging department. I am not familiar with Kabocha pumpkins. From what I have found, butternut squash is the closest, but that doesnt look like what you have in this picture. Are there any other varieties you would reccomend, or would the green skinned variety work as well? Thanks so much! love your work!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabocha

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com/ Mel

    Likely my favorite dessert post I’ve seen on here thus far. I love combining root veggies/ gourds etc. with dessert. Yam and sweet potato is my other fav. :)

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com/ Mel

    Likely my favorite dessert post I’ve seen on here thus far. I love combining root veggies/ gourds etc. with dessert. Yam and sweet potato is my other fav. :)

  • http://www.WordsAreFood.com/ Kristin Conroy

    The pumpkin that’s pictured isn’t a kabocha, as the recipe calls for, is it? Aren’t they green? Just wanted to make sure because I want to try this soon!

  • Kristin Conroy

    The pumpkin that’s pictured isn’t a kabocha, as the recipe calls for, is it? Aren’t they green? Just wanted to make sure because I want to try this soon!

  • NJ

    I have the same question as Kristin (28) above. The kabocha that I am finding is a squash rather than a pumpkin and green rather than orange. Is the photo a sugar pumpkin? Curious as this will be our “pumpkin” pie this year and I can’t wait to hear the raves. You are a keeper, Marc!

    • marc

      Hi NJ, the photo is of a sugar pumpkin, but it works better with green skinned Kabocha (which means “pumpkin” in Japanese) as the skin on a sugar pumpkin is too hard to eat. I also like the texture of kabocha better.

    • marc

      Hi NJ, the photo is of a sugar pumpkin, but it works better with green skinned Kabocha (which means “pumpkin” in Japanese) as the skin on a sugar pumpkin is too hard to eat. I also like the texture of kabocha better.

  • NJ

    I have the same question as Kristin (28) above. The kabocha that I am finding is a squash rather than a pumpkin and green rather than orange. Is the photo a sugar pumpkin? Curious as this will be our “pumpkin” pie this year and I can’t wait to hear the raves. You are a keeper, Marc!

    • marc

      Hi NJ, the photo is of a sugar pumpkin, but it works better with green skinned Kabocha (which means “pumpkin” in Japanese) as the skin on a sugar pumpkin is too hard to eat. I also like the texture of kabocha better.

  • http://123recipes.com/Recipe/Oriental-Chicken-Salad/Detail I Love Chicken Salad

    I am imagining how this thing taste as it slowly melts in your mouth! I can not wait to try this out! Thanks for the idea.

  • http://123recipes.com/Recipe/Oriental-Chicken-Salad/Detail I Love Chicken Salad

    I am imagining how this thing taste as it slowly melts in your mouth! I can not wait to try this out! Thanks for the idea.

  • http://123recipes.com/Recipe/Oriental-Chicken-Salad/Detail I Love Chicken Salad

    I am imagining how this thing taste as it slowly melts in your mouth! I can not wait to try this out! Thanks for the idea.

  • http://www.babypop.com/ sherry

    Oh I want to try this for my annual pumpkin carving party

  • http://karmaperdiem.wordpress.com/ Lisa McB.

    Oh my…. Now I know what to do with my garden pumpkins!

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  • Samantha Russ

    This sounds to die for! I am curious however; in the first photo, did you peel or remove the harder portion of the sugar pumpkin shell? It’s so shiny!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Nope, it may have been from the steaming.

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  • Kristi Holzer

    I was so excited to try this and serve it at a formal holiday dinner tonight – but when I took mine out of the oven after 50 mins it was a complete watery mess.  It was actually runnier/thinner than when it went in!  I can only assume the heat pulled all the moisture out of the pumpkin into the custard??  I’ve no idea what went wrong but I’m realllly disappointed!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out. What kind of pumpkin did you use?

      • Kristi Holzer

        I’m afraid I don’t know the name – it was a small round pumpkin that said “pie pumpkin” on the side on a sticker.   I have a photo I’ll attach.  It may well be chef’s error on my part.  And sorry if my prior post sounded cranky – I was just so excited to have such a beautiful dessert to share!

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          No worries, I’d be disappointed too after spending all that time on it. Your pumpkin looks like the same variety I used. Was there any curd forming in the pumpkin at all or was it a smooth liquid consistency? How large were your eggs? I didn’t specify in the recipe, but I usually use extra large eggs.

          • Kristi Holzer

            Mine were just large.  (eggs)   I didn’t have any curd forming – it was a very runny liquid. Literally watery.  Once it cooled and sat for a time it did thicken to about milk viscosity.  I have a couple more pumpkins – maybe I’ll give it another go.  My lid on my pan didn’t seal very well because the pumpkin I used was too tall.  I’ll try and make sure to get a smaller one this time so that all seals properly.  Just to make sure – I want to keep the pumpkin in the steamer basket with the water in the bottom of the pan before placing it in the oven (with the opening covered in foil and the lid then over it all)?  And thank you so much for being willing to respond!!

          • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

            There’s a couple things that could be happening here. 1) The lid not closing all the way didn’t get the custard hot enough to set. Was the pumpkin itself soft? 2) The oven isn’t getting hot enough (do you have a thermometer you keep in the oven to verify the temperature?) 3) the foil didn’t cover the top of the pumpkin well enough and water vapor got in and watered down the custard. If you do try it again, try adding another whole egg.

          • Botany Dave

            I make a similar dessert with alternate ingredients (and cream -no condensed milk), and often find that the one annoying variable is that it never cooks through as fast as I think it will.   …Good idea about the burnt sugar on top; will have to try!  :D

          • Karen Baker

            Kristi – are you sure you used Sweetened Condensed Milk? If you just used condensed milk, the recipe won’t work.  Just a thought.  I’ve made the same mistake myself with these two types of canned milk.  

  • Alicia

    pictures are not displaying!.

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  • Ana

    Does this work via steaming? I don’t have an oven, as I live in China.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Yep, steaming will work, but I’m not sure how long it will take. The time will probably be shorter and you’ll have to be careful not to have the heat up too high or it will effect the texture of the custard.

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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