From: Patrick Mulvaney, Culinary Specialists Catering and Mulvaney’s B&L, Sacramento. Yield: 6 servings.
6 small sugar pumpkins (12-16 oz. each, about 4” diameter), to be used as decorative bowls*
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger, ground
¼ tsp. cloves, ground
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup nonfat or low-fat evaporated milk
6 Tbsp. walnuts, chopped, toasted
*Note: These crustless individual custards can be baked in small, hollowed-out pumpkins or in ramekins.
If using pumpkins, prepare them by removing stem end from each and scraping seeds and fibers from inside the pumpkins. Cut a very thin slice off the bottom of each one so they will sit flat without wobbling. Alternately, coat 6 ramekins, each about 6-oz. capacity, with nonstick cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Stir with a whisk or spoon until evenly blended. Add eggs and pumpkin puree. Beat until completely mixed. Slowly pour in the evaporated milk, stirring until smooth.
If using pumpkins, divide filling among them, pouring about ½ cup into each. Place pumpkins on a parchment-lined shallow baking pan, with their tops next to them. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º F and continue baking about 1 hour more, or until pumpkins are tender when pierced. If the tops are done sooner, remove them. If using ramekins, pour about ½ cup of filling into each. Place ramekins on a shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325º F and bake about 25 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in filling comes out clean (or almost clean).
Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool. If custard is baked in pumpkins, cool for an hour. Serve custards warm. Sprinkle each with 1 Tbsp. walnuts. Accompany with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Pumpkin lids may be placed atop the pumpkins, or at an angle next to the pumpkin.