Pumpkins! Pumpkins! I have been obsessed with PUMPKINS this fall. In the past, I avoided them, intimidated by their grandiose size, their knife-defying flesh. But then, a couple of things happened.
First, I ate a wonderful dessert during my rainy weekend in Provence — a pumpkin cappuccino — pumpkin purée, warm sautéed apples, and cinnamon whipped cream. It was so simple, lovely and autumnal, I had to try it myself. The recipe (below) is still a work in progress, but I liked David Lebovitz’s technique for roasting pumpkin slices, which I used to create my purée.
Then, I kept reading about Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for a whole pumpkin stuffed with bread and cheese. Everywhere I looked (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) everyone (e.g. fellow food nerds) was heralding the stuffed pumpkin with multiple-exclamation-point updates. So, I made one, using this recipe. And guess what? It was awesome. (There’s also another version that calls for bacon, herbs and other stuff, but I think I prefer it without the meat.)
After all this pumpkin consumption, I’ve learned something. In French “pumpkin” has many names, among them potiron, which refers to the giant squash sold in slices that have a sweeter flesh. Then there’s the potimarron, which is what I used for my stuffed pumpkin. It has a starchy texture, like a cross between pumpkin and chestnut (in French, marron) — hence the name, poti-marron.
I’m still playing with this recipe. Next time, I’d choose a firmer apple variety and perhaps add a layer of crushed gingersnap cookies.
For the pumpkin purée:
1 chunk pumpkin, between 2-3 lbs.
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (or more to taste)
I used David’s method for roasted pumpkin, smearing my parchment paper with butter and sprinkling the slices with brown sugar. After the pumpkin had cooked and cooled, I scraped the flesh from the skin and puréed it in a food mill (to remove the fibrous solids). Taste and add more sugar, if necessary. The purée should not be too sweet.
For the apples:
4 firm cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into a dice
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples, toss to coat with butter. Add the sugar and cinnamon and toss or stir to combine. Continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until apples are hot and cooked through, but still slightly crunchy. (I used the wrong kind of apples — they started to disintegrate.)
For the cinnamon whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Combine everything in a large bowl and whip with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Taste and add more sugar and cinnamon, if necessary.
Assembling the pumpkin cappuccino:
In a teacup or parfait glass, add a layer of pumpkin purée (at room temperature), then a layer of warm apples, then a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream.