It is time to celebrate winter squash! Not only that, it is also time to celebrate low-fat desserts that are actually too rich for me to handle large portions. (Some of our guests had seconds, mind.) This is basically pumpkin pie filling served in delicate, darling phyllo nests; the perfect fall dessert.
Our first taste testers declared, “This is food for the eyes, not for the mouth!” And then they gobbled their nests all up, and asked for more.
This recipe was adapted from yet another fantastic Alice Medrich cookbook, Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts. We did our phyllo nests somewhat differently, and increased both the variety of spices and quantity of each spice in the filling. Also, I had far too much fun playing with caramel to make the garnishes. For me, that is the best part.
For the nests
For the filling
3 eggs, lightly beaten
22 1/2 fluid oz. roasted pumpkin goop
1 1/8 C sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp rum
2 1/4 C evaporated milk
For the top
For the caramel garnish
1/2 C sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tbsp butter
Make the phyllo nests:
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Spray your muffin tin lightly with oil. Cut the phyllo into squares appropriately sized to your muffin tin. Layer three squares of phyllo into each muffin compartment, corners offset, brushing the smallest quantity of melted butter you can manage over each square and sprinkling on cinnamon and sugar before layering on the next.
Bake for 8 minutes, rotating the muffin tray halfway through.
Allow to cool completely while working on the next step.
Make the filling:
Start off by roasting the pumpkin. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits in the middle. Place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan, and fill it with water halfway up the sides of the pumpkin halves. Roast until tender, about an hour or so, depending on the size of your pumpkin. Let it cool enough to handle, then scrape the now-goopified pumpkin flesh out of the skin.
Lower the oven to 325º.
Mix the eggs, pumpkin goop, sugar, spices, and salt. Add the brandy and evaporated milk, and stir until homogenous. Pour into a baking dish and bake for an hour or so, or until done. Test it with a toothpick as you would a cake, and when the toothpick comes out mostly clean, the pumpkin filling is done.
Make the whipped cream:
You already know how to do this part.
Make the caramel garnishes:
Set up a baking pan covered in parchment paper or a Silpat sheet. Have two spoons ready to grab.
Combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring insofar as is necessary to melt the butter in time. Once it reaches a boil, stop stirring and let it caramelize to a medium amber, swirling the pan if one area seems to be darkening faster than the rest. As soon as it reaches a color just slightly paler than you would like, lower the heat enough to keep the caramel molten but not really cooking much.
Use one of the spoons to drip lines of caramel onto the sheet in whatever designs you please. Bear in mind the need for structural integrity. The second spoon is to catch drips of caramel when you feel like lifting the caramel-laden spoon away cleanly.
Assemble the pumpkin nests:
Scoop pumpkin filling into the phyllo nests. Add a dab of whipped cream, and stick in one of the caramel garnishes. Enjoy!