Pumpkin Molasses Custards


Autumn, and it's never too early to begin marveling at the glorious, blazing colors...of the curcubit family.

I love winter squash. Most especially the ones you might consider the most pedestrian, or provincial, or anything edging on 'boring' without saying it (and really, like Grandpa always stressed, with the odd exception there is no such thing as boring except for people; boredom is a choice). Back to the point, though, I mean those smooth and gorgeous over-exposed selections, pumpkin and butternut. It's not a popularity contest, but I just love them, any which way; a plain puree of these squashes, roasted, is like pudding, as long as it's not placed inside a baby food jar.

If plain roasted squash is so delicious on its own, why bother letting it get mixed up with other company just for the sake of taking the time to pour and bake in ramekins? For one thing, ramekins are cute yet somehow make food seem more elegant. And also, I'm not sure how great it actually is for the digestion to liberally snack on straight puree. It might be completely salubrious, but on the other hand, it's nice to create something a little different that someone else will actually sit down to eat with you. When said something comes presented as its own clear, natural and appropriate serving (eg 1 apple...1 ramekin), that's kind of a fun bonus.

This past weekend I saw a "pin" for two-ingredient pumpkin brownies, and became prematurely beguiled. It turned out one ingredient was canned pumpkin, and the other was a packaged fudgey brownie mix.  I'm not trying to knock that, and the creator put together a beautiful blog post. I'm just explaining a thought process, and why I had to make these little pumpkin pots asap.

My own "one-ingredient" pumpkin snack being admittedly weird, and the "Two-Ingredient" just a little misleading, I really wanted to see how far back I could scale the list of components and yield something lovely and also wholesome. I took for granted that abysmal failure was pretty much impossible, because how can you really go wrong on the strength of pumpkin? Plus, there are the affirming health benefits to consider no matter what, really, such as the whopping dose of beta carotene and fiber for relatively few calories.

What I came up with ended up being another adaptation of a wonderful Joy Bauer recipe. I didn't intend it that way...in fact, I thought I'd come up with it pretty solidly by myself, despite the uncanny alignment with pumpkin pie filling. Then, while planning for the next week's groceries, I was thumbing through Slim & Scrumptious, and there they were...Silky Pumpkin Pie Custards. Joy's recipe included sour cream, which made me think how great it would be to incorporate plain yogurt. Joy's recipe also uses 1/2 cup brown sugar, and I chose to use solely 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses (my favorite sweetener, and actually packed with nutrients).

I loved how these little custards turned out, especially once chilled. If you go with what I did exactly, I'm pretty sure this honestly could be part of breakfast. However, I will be frank and disclose that Dave described them as being "pretty good, like watery pumpkin pie filling". So it should go without saying, use your best judgement. If you want something a little more robust and sweet, go with the 1/2 cup sugar (or maybe 1/4 blackstrap molasses and 1/4 cup maple syrup). That's still a fairly commendably low amount of sugar for the 6 ramekins you get. Either way, you'll find these really are smooth and silky, good-for-you pumpkin pies in a cup. Happy fall!

Pumpkin ginger custards

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 3/4 cups roasted pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses or to taste (*for sweeter version, try 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup maple syrup, or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated (or thinly sliced) ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined.
  3. Pour mixture into 6 six-ounce overnproof ramekins. Place in a 9 X 13 baking dish.
  4. Prepare a water bath: carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish until the water level is roughly halfway up the ramekins.
  5. Bake 50 minutes to one hour. Remove from oven and allow custards to cool in water bath 20 minutes. Chill before serving.