Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kabocha Squash Pie

I find that most of my cooking and baking revolves around what I have in the kitchen and what needs to be used up first. More often than not, I'll buy ingredients with the intention of using them in one dish, but end up using them for something else. My family also tends to buy more than we need at once, so we usually need to find creative ways to use things up.

This was one of those cases, the ingredient in question? A kabocha squash. It's been sitting around for a few months waiting to be used, but nothing ever became of it...until earlier this week. My dad peeled it and steamed it intending to use it for a dessert of his own, but decided against it because he didn't think it was starchy enough. So, we were left with about 5 cups of kabocha squash puree without any plan to deal with it.

My mom suggested that maybe I could make a pie with it and that sounded like a good idea since it would be similar to a pumpkin pie. It's also the perfect time of year for a pie full of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. So, I set off to find a recipe for kabocha squash pie, made it, and was actually really pleased with the results. It's denser, stronger in flavor, and less sweet than pumpkin puree, but most people that tried it were fooled into thinking it was a pumpkin pie. I would definitely make this again and if you don't have extra kabocha squash puree around, this recipe will work just as well with canned pumpkin puree(15 oz) as it's basically the same recipe. I added more spices than was called for because the added spices really made it taste just like pumpkin pie, but adjust to your own taste.

I drained my squash puree since it was steamed and fresh puree tends to have more liquid than canned puree, but if yours is roasted, it may not be necessary. I like to bake the pie about 20 minutes in the beginning on the lower third of my oven to ensure that the bottom is browned nicely. Enjoy the recipe and give it a try with different autumn squashes as well.

Kabocha Squash Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/8-1/4 cup iced water

Pulse the butter, sugar, salt, and flour in a food processor until the butter is the size of peas. Gradually add just enough iced water as the processor is running until the dough just holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. Dump out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a round disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days or freeze up to a month.

When ready to use, roll out the pie dough to a round big enough for a 9 inch pie plate. Fit into the pie plate, crimp, dock with a fork, then freeze for 10 minutes. Line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes removing the parchment and pie weights halfway through so that the crust can begin to brown. Remove when the crust starts to color nicely.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.

1 3/4 cups kabocha squash puree
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine salt
1 1/3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 1 tsp ground cinnamon( or use 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg)

Mix cornstarch with a bit of the milk first to eliminate any lumps, then add in the rest of the ingredients mixing until blended.

Pour filling into the prebaked crust and bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes until the center just wiggles slightly and a toothpick inserted gently about an inch from the center comes out clean. Let pie cool completely at least 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator before serving.(Since I made it on a rather cold day, I didn't bother putting it in the fridge.)

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