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Candied Jack-Be-Little Pumpkins

For a sophisticated dessert, try this custard and candied pumpkin dish from pastry chef Chris Broberg of the Four Seasons Restaurant.

  • yield: Makes 6

Ingredients

For the Candied Pumpkins

  • 6 Jack-Be-Little pumpkins
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 4 star anise
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 4 cups sugar

For the Pots de Creme

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons molasses or dark-brown sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

For Serving

  • Turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • Pearl sugar, for garnish
  • Cloves, cinnamon, or star anise, for garnish

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Make the Candied Pumpkins: Cut top one-third of pumpkins and remove seeds from pumpkins and tops; set aside.

  2. Step 2

    In a small dry skillet, toast cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, and peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and transfer to a small piece of cheesecloth along with ginger; tie with kitchen twine to enclose.

  3. Step 3

    Place 2 cups sugar, cheesecloth packet, and 3 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add pumpkins and tops, making sure liquid fills the cavity of each pumpkin, and return to a boil; cook for 5 minutes.

  4. Step 4

    Add 1 cup sugar to saucepan and return to a boil; let cook 5 minutes more. Add remaining cup of sugar and cook until pumpkin flesh is translucent, about 20 minutes, brushing pumpkins occasionally with cooking liquid. Remove saucepan from heat and let pumpkins and tops cool in liquid. Invert pumpkins onto a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet to drain.

  5. Step 5

    Make the Pots de Creme: Fill a small saucepan with 3/4 cup water; add molasses or sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sugar syrup cool completely.

  6. Step 6

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  7. Step 7

    In a large bowl, whisk together sugar syrup and egg yolks until well combined. In a medium saucepan, whisk cream and milk; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Slowly whisk milk mixture into yolk mixture. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

  8. Step 8

    Place pumpkins in a large 2-inch-deep roasting pan. Fill pumpkins with custard to just below the rim. Set roasting pan on rack in oven. Fill pan with enough warm water so that it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pumpkins. Cover pan with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil and slide into oven. Bake until edges of custard are set but center is just a little loose and custards are slightly domed, 40 to 45 minutes.

  9. Step 9

    Let pumpkins cool in water in roasting pan for 20 minutes. Remove from water and transfer to refrigerator to chill.

  10. Step 10

    When pumpkins have chilled, sprinkle tops of custards with turbinado sugar. Using a kitchen torch, melt turbinado sugar to form a crust. Dip pumpkin tops in turbinado sugar. Place confectioners' sugar in a small sieve and sift over pumpkins. Mix together any remaining sugars and make a small bed of sugar on each serving plate; set pumpkins on sugar bed. Garnish plate with cloves, cinnamon, and star anise; serve.

Source
The Martha Stewart Show, October 2010

Reviews (13)

  • 28 Oct, 2011

    So, where is everyone buying the little pumpkins? All the stores here, in the Dallas area, includiing Wholefoods, say their small pumpkins are not edible. I've wanted to make these, since I saw it on your show last Fall.

  • 1 Nov, 2010

    to amon2all: Of course it's important to read a recipe at least twice before you start. However, I have the original printed version of this recipe from the day the show aired and Step 5 CLEARLY states for the Pots de Creme "Fill a small saucepan with 3/4 cups water; add molasses/sugar, etc.". That's what we were basing our comments on. Someone was watching because it has been corrected. TECHNILA: I had to use a large pot and it comfortably fit all six Jack Be Littles and their lids.

  • 1 Nov, 2010

    To amom2all: Of course it's important to read a recipe at least twice before you start. However, I have the original printed version of this receipt from the day the show aired and Step 5 CLEARLY states for the Pots de Creme: "Fill a msall saucepan with 3/4 cups water; add molasses/sugar, etc.". That's what we were basing it on. Someone was watching our comments because it has been corrected. TECHNINLA: I had to use a large pot and it comfortbly fit all six Jack Be Littles and their lids.

  • 31 Oct, 2010

    I just tried making the candied pumpkin shells, which I intended to fill with pumpkin ice cream. Instead of 6 Jack-be-Little pumpkins, I used 5 mini pumpkins. They were the smallest I could find. There is no way that they would have fit in a medium saucepan, with two cups of water cpvering them. I had to use the bottom half of a pressure cooker, and even then I could get in no more than three at a time. I tried to cook it in two batches, I wound up with brown, crusty pumpkins.

  • 31 Oct, 2010

    I just tried making the candied pumpkin shells, which I intended to fill with pumpkin ice cream. Instead of 6 Jack-be-Little pumpkins, I used 5 mini pumpkins. They were the smallest I could find. There is no way that they would have fit in a medium saucepan, with two cups of water cpvering them. I had to use the bottom half of a pressure cooker, and even then I could get in no more than three at a time. I tried to cook it in two batches, I wound up with brown, crusty pumpkins.

  • 30 Oct, 2010

    It is very important to completely read a recipe, along with the directions BEFORE beginning. It states you need 3 c. of water for the sugar syrup for the pumpkins in the body of the directions. It also says you need 3 T of water for the sugar syrup for the custard. I have not seen anywhere where it says you need 3/4 c water for anything.
    I made this recipe and it turned out beautiful. I will make it again for Thanksgiving dinner but possibly change the custard to a pumpkin custard.

  • 30 Oct, 2010

    This is my fourth batch of these. I made the syrup using the 3/4 cup water and then took the 3 Tbsp. out of that for the brulee. I didn't have to make the syrup again for future batches. Even though I think the instructions are wrong, it worked out in the end and prevented me from making new syrup. Good luck.

  • 26 Oct, 2010

    I am confused as to the ingredients also. I used the 3/4 cup of water for the syrup but the ingredient list states 3 Tbsp not 3/4 Cup. Does anyone know which one is correct? I have cooked it for over an hour and it is still runny. I can only imagine this is because of the water amount is incorrect.

  • 25 Oct, 2010

    I also made these- they were delicious and worth the time. However, I was confused by the written ingredients for the pots de creme of 3 Tbl. water when the written directions say to mix 3/4 cup water with 3 Tbl. of sugar. I followed the written instructions and they took the 3 Tbl. from that. My only disappointment was that I had these beautiful candied pumpkins and when you fill them with the custard mixture and put them in water bath, you lose this beautiful gloss. Made 3 batches.

  • 24 Oct, 2010

    The recipe says 3 Tbsp water

  • 23 Oct, 2010

    An update. I just took them out an allowed them to cool for 20 minutes. They are very liquid and not at all set. I am wondering if the water/brown sugar has messed me up? I would love to have this recipe written correctly. I can not find a recipe online with a custard like this one.

  • 18 Oct, 2010

    I just made these last night, and they were incredible!! I did underestimate my time (it took about 3 hours total, would be closer to 4) and I didn't even chill them after they came out of the oven. I have to say though, that was the best "mistake" I could have made! They were amazing warm!! I will definitely be making these again! Very much worth the time and effort.

  • 18 Oct, 2010

    I just made these last night, and they were incredible!! I did underestimate my time (it took about 3 hours total, would be closer to 4) and I didn't even chill them after they came out of the oven. I have to say though, that was the best "mistake" I could have made! They were amazing warm!! I will definitely be making these again! Very much worth the time and effort.