Thanksgiving Pie: Butternut Squash

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The shapely butternut squash, tasty cousin of the pumpkin, ready ingredient of soups, infant food and side dishes, is equally up to the task in desserts.

The twig armed (i.e. the muscularly challenged) will certainly appreciate its manageable size and weight, and its cooperativeness in being skinned and cubed, relative to the heftier pumpkin.

Try a cup of pureed, roasted butternut squash in your favorite waffle or pancake recipe too, by replacing a cup of milk with an equivalent volume of puree, or in cupcakes, cakes, pies and flavored creme brulees.

Butternut is deployed here in a family favorite pumpkin pie recipe, to which I’ve liberally added my grandmother’s oft-used spices (well, one’s a root, but still) – cardamom and ginger.

I can’t tell you how quickly the perfume of cardamom transports me back to my early childhood years in Malaysia.  Almost as quickly as the ceaseless chirp of crickets or the scent of a summer shower pounding the blistering tarmac.

A couple of days of patience and abstinence work in favor of any dish that’s spiced, although reining in a family whose expectations have been roused by the delicious aromas from the oven could be a tall order.

Crust (for one pie):

  • stick of butter, cubed, 1
  • sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp
  • pinch salt
  • fresh ground ginger, 1-2 tsp
  • plain flour, 1 1/4 cups
  1. Whizz in processor till they cling in pea-sized clumps
  2. Add about 3 tbsp of cold water, use the blunt end of a choptick to mix till it comes together,
  3. pat into a disc and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Then, remove from fridge, roll out onto pie dish, bake blind (ie. without the filling) at 410F for 10 mins.

For filling:

  • brown sugar, 1/2 cup
  • white sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • eggs, 2 whole plus 1 yolk
  • cloves, 1/2 tsp
  • nutmeg, 1/4 tsp
  • cardamom, 10 cloves, smashed and only the seeds ground to a fine powder (about 2 tsp worth)
  • fresh ginger, 3 tsp
  • cream, 1/2 cup (room temp)
  • salt, 1/2 tsp
  • marscapone cheese, 1/2 cup (room temp)
  • butternut squash, 400g (yields 1 1/4 cups)
  1. Bake cubes of butternut squash in a 420F oven for about 30 mins, sprinkle top with cinnamon and a touch of olive oil. Once cooked through, process with a bit of filtered water. Should yield 1 1/4 cups butternut pulp, use all in this recipe.
  2. Cream the eggs till their color lightens and they bulk up in volume
  3. Add sugars and blend till light and fluffy
  4. Add the spices, cream and marscapone, process further
  5. Stir in the butternut pulp and pulse till well combined
  6. Pour into the ready pie shell and bake 375F for about 45-55 mins
  7. Pie is done if you touch the middle of it lightly and it doesn’t leave a dimple
  8. Lightly dust with sugar and serve with a dollop of whipped, fresh cream or nothing at all.

Now, if this pie looks a little, say rustique, it’s because I didn’t wait the full 30 minutes for the pie crust to rest in the fridge. Be forewarned.

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Hope your Thanksgiving is a joyful one with your family and friends!

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