Jack-O-Lantern pudding (Meher)

I must tell you the story that led to the creation of this dish. Well, I have already written a short story about two past Halloweens. This story is about the Jack-O-lanterns that decorate virtually every house on many a street here. While people seem to enjoy finding, carving, and setting out big pumpkins, few appear to use these bountiful fruits once the candle is blown off. I have always felt guilty about wasting so much food. On my daily walks, I notice the slow decay of Jack-O-lanterns on the porches in the days following Halloween. Usually the top part (lid) caves in as the microbes work their way and shrink the cut edges. The head assumes all kinds of contorted expressions. Sometimes, the black mold creates a mascara like lining along the incisions of the eyes, nose and mouth. Finally, the whole thing becomes an awful orange mush as the contents freeze and thaw in the following weeks. Sooner or later, the pumpkins are unceremoniously tossed into the garbage. Imagine the waste!

I have thought of some things we can do with the pumpkin but I must confess that the sheer size of this vegetable was a deterrent to putting any of my ideas to work. Besides, I am not a huge fan of pumpkin soup, so the thought of gallons of the stuff would scare me more than the rotting pumpkin heads. Then of course there is the pumpkin pie. Again, not my favorite. Moreover, the thought of seeing Tim go into overdrive of making pastry shells frightens me as I have already confessed. our house at halloween
So, this year, I was bracing myself for my annual ritual of seeing the Jack-O-lanterns rot away as Tim brought the orange thing into the living room and rested it on a bookshelf. I was really afraid to ask why he did this but thought that perhaps he needs it for his plant families course. Soon, Tim took down the pumpkin and started chopping it into small pieces. Before long, we had a small mountain of pumpkin pieces and I gathered enough courage to ask him what he was going to do with the chopped pumpkin. It was then that he said, “pumpkin pies”. I said, “you are NOT”. He said “AM too”. We argued for a bit and I realized that I lost the battle. He had hit upon my soft spot of being against wasting food. So, I had to think very fast about averting the creation of a stack of pumpkin pies. Even stored in the refrigerator, there's no doubt these would rot before being eaten. With little freezer space, we would be doomed to eating pumpkin pies non-stop for all our meals until we finished them. I could see one disaster on top of another. What would all this do to our system? Maybe we would get a disease unheard of before. So, I thought and thought as Tim went shopping for ingredients to make the pies. Meher getting ready
Long time ago, I had a landlady who was really fond of the pumpkin pie filling (home made) but did not make pies. She would make the filling (a fluffy delicacy, lightly seasoned with nutmeg) and serve it with ice cream. This was a very good dessert indeed. So, I told Tim about this. We hit upon a compromise. He would make two pumpkin pies and use the rest of the stuffing to experiment making what I call Jack-O-lantern pudding, much like the dessert my landlady used to make. To give proper credit, the ingredients of the pudding are from a cookbook. We experimented with the massive amount of the pumpkin mush, freezing batches of the filling, thawing, and baking just before serving. The results were pretty good. Remember that the recipe is not the last word. I will work towards a fluffier, light pudding which can be served with a small dollop of ice cream, whipped cream or frozen yogurt. JS on his way
The best thing about the pudding is that there are no pie shells involved, first of all. If you have a freezer, I am sure you can freeze enough Jack-O-lantern pudding until the next Halloween! If you ever get hooked, you can collect all the Jack-O-lanterns on your street and go into a big production. Let me know how it works for you. the inyended victim

Here's the actual recipe we used, from Fannie Farmer's little cookbook, now dog-eared and coverless from 40-plus years of use:

Mix 1.5 Cups cooked pumpkin with... Right here is the problem:no self-respecting jack-o-lantern yields only 1.5 cups of cooked pumpkin. You'll have to scale this recipe up, as we did, if you're going to do something useful with just one jack-o-lantern. This is why you want to have some pie shells on hand, and bowls for pudding...

...with 2/3 Cup brown sugar, 1 Tsp cinnamon, 1/2 Tsp each of grated nutmeg and ginger (we substituted a bunch of freshly grated ginger root for the latter), 1/2 Tsp salt, 2 eggs, slightly beaten, 1.5 Cups milk, and 1/2 Cup cream or evaporated milk.

Cook the filling in the biggest double boiler you can contrive if you're processing a whole jack-o-lantern, cook it until thick, cool slightly, and then pour it into your pie shells, pyrex pudding bowls, containers for freezing, and so on. In a pie shell or pudding bowl, bake at 350-450 degrees (F) until the mixture has set (a knife comes out clean, or you can see it separating from the bowl).

and the result


Jack-O-Lantern pudding

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text and images on this site copyright © 2008 M. Shaik, T. A. Dickinson, A. K. Dickinson, and (or) J. S. Dickinson
posted by tim dot dickinson at utoronto dot ca on 31-Dec-2008