For the Chef on Call cooking session, chef Michael Mina plated these puddings (firm and muffin-like) with a swath of squash puree, diamonds of sauteed squash and a garnish of sage leaves and butter pecan ice cream.
Kabocha squash is less available in the winter; butternut squash may be substituted.
Make Ahead: The puree can be made 2 days in advance. It's best to bake the puddings 1 day in advance and hold them at room temperature. The puddings are best served warm, with the sauce.
Yield: Makes 12 large (or 24 regular-size) muffins
- For the squash puree
- 1 1/2 pounds (unpeeled) kabocha squash (may substitute butternut squash)
- 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil (may substitute mild vegetable oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For the puddings
- 4 cups flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs (separate the whites and yolks of 2 of the eggs)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Finely grated zest from 1 medium orange (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
- Minced sage
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Ground cinnamon
- Scant 1 cup heavy cream
- For the toffee sauce
- 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- About 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
For the squash puree: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet or the bottom of a roasting pan with parchment paper.
Split the squash open and discard any stringy membranes and seeds. Cut a sliver from the bottom, if necessary, to help the squash remain stable and flesh side up in the oven. Coat the flesh with the oil and season liberally with the salt. Roast for 1 hour or until the flesh is soft. Scoop out the baked flesh and pass it through a food mill or ricer; stir to make sure it is smooth. There should be about 2 cups.
For the puddings: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a large-muffin tin with 12 deep wells (or 2 muffin tins with a total of 24 regular-size wells) in a roasting pan. (If desired, lightly grease the wells with nonstick cooking oil spray.) Boil a kettle of water.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
Combine the butter and about 2 1/4 cups of the sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer; beat on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy.
Add the 2 whole eggs and 2 of the egg yolks, working with one at a time, incorporating well between each addition.
Reduce the speed to low; add the vanilla extract and orange zest, then add the sifted flour mixture in several additions until well combined. Add the sage, nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Fold in the squash puree and the cream until well incorporated.
Beat the remaining egg whites with the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar in a separate bowl on high speed, until medium-stiff peaks form.
Fold the meringue mixture into the squash puree mixture until just combined. Use the mixture to fill the wells of the muffin tin(s) about 3/4 full. Place the roasting pan on the middle oven rack; pour enough of the boiled water into the bottom of the pan to come halfway up the sides of the muffin wells. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until slightly browned and lightly crusted on top. (The insides of the puddings will be like moist muffins.) Keep warm in the pan while you make the toffee sauce. It's best to leave the puddings in the tins at room temperature overnight.
For the toffee sauce: Bring the cream just to a boil over medium-high heat (to scald it). Add the butter and sugar and return just to a boil, stirring. Add salt to taste. Remove from the heat; stir until smoothly blended. Reheat over low heat when ready to serve.
To assemble: Rewarm the puddings in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes or until just warmed through. Invert the warm puddings onto individual plates. Pour 2 tablespoons of the warm toffee sauce over each pudding. Serve immediately.
Adapted from chef Michael Mina.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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