Saturday, November 8, 2008
One of my favorite desserts as a child was pumpkin pie. It wasn't too sweet, or too rich, and topped with a nice big dollop of whipped cream it was pretty much heaven on earth. It was also my dad's favorite dessert, he often requested it instead of cake on his birthday. As much as I love pumpkin pie though, I'm not very often going to make a whole damn pie just because I'm craving a little piece.
OK, that's not completely true, I'm just as likely to make it as not - I'm kinda crazy like that.
In any event, pumpkin butter just seemed so much easier. I've made plenty of apple butter and enjoyed it in many ways, so I thought pumpkin butter would go over equally as well.
Holy crap did I ever forgot how long it takes to cook down these kinds of things. Especially when you're a jackass like me and you start off with a whole pumpkin instead of the cans of puree. I swear I can't ever take the easy road when it comes to things like this. Just let me shoot myself in the foot and get it over with...
9 hours later, though, I've got the most bitchenest pumpkin butter this side of the...well, I don't know. I've never had anyone else's before. I assure you that most of that cook time is fairly inactive, just give it a stir every half hour or so once it's in the crock pot and you're good to go - and it's definitely worth it.
Enjoy slathered on scones, english muffins, toast, tip of your finger, brush your teeth with it, etc.
Makes approx. 2 1/2 pints
5 lb. organic pumpkin, preferably not the kid's leftover jack o'lantern
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 vanilla bean
4 cups water, divided
Preheat oven to 375 F
Remove seeds from pumpkin, and quarter. Rub with a little olive oil and roast in oven for 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to peel the skin off.
Break up roasted pumpkin flesh with a fork and knife and put in a large (6-8 qt), heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. If you don't own a heavy pot use a heat diffuser. If you don't have a heat diffuser or a heavy pot don't make this, it's not worth your time. You'll be stirring constantly for 3 hours.
Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. When that 2 cups is absorbed add the remaining 2 cups water. The pumpkin should now be soft enough to mash into a pulp with a potato masher. If it's not, add more water and continue to cook until it is.
Puree the pumpkin in either a blender in batches or with an immersion blender.
Split vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and pod to pumpkin along with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and sugar. Reduce heat to med low and cover with a splatter guard. Stir every ten-fifteen minutes for three hours or until reduced to 2 quarts (about half).
Transfer to small (2-4 qt) crock pot and cook, uncovered for 6-7 hours or until thick and spreadable. Stir every half hour or so to move the mixture around, ensuring even evaporation of excess liquid.
The flavor, in my opinion, is not quite pumpkin pie-y until it is chilled. While still warm the flavors are still quite muted. Refrigerate overnight and taste the next morning, if the flavor is still not as concentrated as you like return to crock pot for another hour or two.
Can in a waterbath in sterilized jars, or keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Can also be frozen for up to 3 months.