1 medium kabocha squash (3 pounds)
1/2–3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (1/4 teaspoon dried ground)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shelled pecans and/or walnuts
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon AP flour
1 tablespoon flax meal
In your oven, arrange one rack on the lowest level and another on the middle.
Start the nut crust. Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until they begin to smell toasty. Finely chop with a knife or pulse a few times in a food processor. You want very small crumbs. Mix with remaining ingredients. Press into the bottom and 1/4-1/2 inch up the sides of a 9″ springform pan. CHILL for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, or up to 24 hours.
Meanwhile, set up a steamer basket in a large pot. Cut the kabocha into 2″ cubes. If it’s too hard, score the skin and pop in in the microwave for a minute to soften it. Steam in the large pot for about 15 minutes or until very soft. Turn off heat and let cool.
Set oven to 350ºF. Bake the nut crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool. INCREASE oven heat to 425ºF
Once the squash can be handled, remove the skin. You can probably leave it on if you want, but this is supposed to be a dessert, so we don’t want too much healthy fiber 😉 Now puree the squash in a food processor or with a hand mixer. Taste it. Aren’t you amazed!? It’s so sweet!
Now add some sugar. I usually do 1/2 cup plus another tablespoon but if your squash is less sweet, you may want 3/4 cup. Use your judgement and your tastebuds. Then whip in the spices, half and half and the eggs. Pour the filling into the crust.
Place a deep pan with an inch of water on the lower rack of the oven. Bake the pie above it at 425ºF for 25 minutes. REDUCE oven temperature to 350ºF and bake another 30 minutes. It should puff a little in the center, still look very moist, but be firm when you gently shake the pan. Remove and let cool completely on the counter. Refrigerate until cold. Run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the crust and unmold from the springform. Can be made three days ahead of time and refrigerated until serving.
This would be delicious with whipped cream, but honestly needs nothing more than a cup of black coffee.