Look, I don’t say you should lie to your children. But sometimes… it’s necessary to give them a slightly moderated version of the truth. Unfortunately, the older they get, the more difficult it becomes to fool them. They figure out who really puts the presents under the Christmas tree. They figure out what’s in the soup.
This is a typical dinner-accompanying conversation at our house:
Sebastiaan (in his inquisitor’s voice): “What’s in this soup?”
Me: “Onions, celery, carrots – you like carrots, remember?”
Sebastiaan: “Is there zucchini in it?”
Me: “Just a tiny little bit...”
Sebastiaan: “I knew it! I don’t eat zucchini, I’m not eating this!”
He’s also opposed to eating winter squash in anything but this soup (which is his all time favorite soup – go figure). So when I made pumpkin butter, he refused to even try it. My husband said I approached it the wrong way. I should have told him it was Speculoos Biscoff spread. (If you don’t know it, speculoos spread is a very succesful, recently developed product based on the gingersnap-like speculaas cookies.) After he said that, I had to agree that it indeed looked pretty much the same. And tasted very similar, too, mostly due to the lovely spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves) and brown sugar. Like the speculoos spread, it’s great slathered on toast. But unlike the speculoos spread, the pumpkin butter is mostly naturally sweet (because pumpkin is) and there’s just a bit of butter in it (I don’t really want to know how much and what kind of fat is in the spread). And of course, there are vitamins! The taste is intensified and the sweetness of the pumpkin brought out in the process of roasting: first you roast the squash, then mix the pulp with the spices, a bit of brown sugar and butter, and roast it again. The process is lengthy, but not demanding – compare that to making it on the stove top and having to stir all the time.
So, as I said, you shouldn’t lie. But you are, of course, free to choose what you’re going to call this spread, depending on your audience.
Speculaas pumpkin butter
Adapted from The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux
I used our last butternut squash, but other kinds of winter squash and pumpkin will also work.
makes about 600 ml (2 large jars)
1,5 kg (almost 3,5 pounds) 1 large or 2 smaller butternut squashes
vegetable oil for coating
50 g (½ stick) butter
40 g (¼ cup) brown (muscovado) sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground all-spice
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 F).
Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and brush the cut sides of the squash with oil. Place the halves (cut side down) on a baking tray lined with parchment and roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and discard the skins.
Lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius (350 F). Add the butter, sugar, spices and salt to the pulp and mix well. Spread the mixture into a shallow oven-proof dish and bake, stirring every 15 minutes or so. In about one and a half hours, the pulp will be thick and slightly caramelized. Take it out off the oven and stir well. If you want your pumpkin butter really smooth, blend it in a food processor. Put in a clean jar and store in the refrigerator. Use within 2 weeks. If you want to store your pumpkin butter longer, put it in a couple of shallow plastic containers and store in the freezer.