Healthy Pumpkin Pie, Baked in the Shell

Pumpkin Pie Baked in the Pumpkin

Fresh Pumpkin Pie SliceOk, now THIS was a fun one to figure out! I wanted a fully REAL food pumpkin pie – nothing processed. And I wanted to bake it in the shell. And I wanted it to be fairly easy. Here you go: simple, healthy, and beautiful!

If you’re thinking of making this for Thanksgiving, you may want to make it once or twice ahead of time, too. Not because it’s tricky or anything, just because it’s delicious :-).

Ingredients
2 medium “Sugar Pumpkins” – these are NOT jack o’lantern pumpkins, they’re quite different. Look for ones marked “sugar pumpkins” or “baking pumpkins.”
1/2 cup maple syrup
3-4 tbsp “pumpkin pie spice” (or mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice)
1 tsp salt
1.5 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon vanilla
I also like to add some freshly ground nutmeg and a little fresh ginger if I have it on hand
Pepitas for garnish
Optional: 1/4 cup marscapone cheese – makes the pie super-creamy, but omit for vegan version
Optional: 2 eggs – they’re not needed, but some people prefer the texture of eggy pumpkin pie

How to make

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the tops off of both pumpkins, and cut one in to halves, leaving the other whole. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and other tissues and put aside (you can roast the seeds later if you like).

Pumpkin pieces ready to roastMix the maple syrup, spices, and salt, and pour into the “bowls” of the halves and the whole pumpkin, and spread around the inside surface. Place these on a large baking sheet and lay a piece of aluminum foil over all. Place into the oven – they are going to cook about 30 – 50 minutes (totally depends on the pumpkins, they can vary considerably), until softened but the shell of the large pumpkin is still solid (not collapsed).

Remove the pumpkins to cool. Put the cashews, a little water and vanilla in a high speed blender (like Vitamix) or food processor. Note: If you do not have a high speed blender, simmer the cashews in water for about 15 minutes, then discard the water before processing) Process until smooth, adding a little water as needed to make smooth. If you are using marscapone cheese and/or eggs, add them now.

When the pumpkin pieces are cool enough, pick them up and pour the remaining maple syrup/spices from them directly into the cashew mix and continue blending on low. Then, scrape the soft pumpkin pulp from the pumpkin halves, all the way to the skin (discarding skin), and add to the blender (still on low). Last, scrape about half of the pumpkin pulp from the whole pumpkin, leaving enough to preserve the structure, and also add this to the blender. Process until smooth. Note: you may overflow your blender, and have to blend in stages.

Taste the pumpkin mixture (assuming you haven’t added eggs) and adjust seasonings – I usually wind up adding some more spices at this point.

Pumpkin ready to go back into the oven

Pumpkin ready to go back into the oven. Note that the filling will expand a bit, so expect it to overflow if you fill to the edge.

When the filling is ready, slowly pour it back into the whole pumpkin, and put the “pie” back in the oven to bake for another 40 – 50 minutes or so, until the top is browned and the filling seems to be set. Remove, and let cool to room temperature, or place in the refrigerator to serve later (most people prefer pumpkin pie to be chilled).

I like to serve this topped with a little more cashew cream or marscapone, blended with a bit of maple syrup, plus a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds. Slice from top to bottom and put slices flat onto plates, then top with the cashew cream or marscapone. Beautiful and delicious – Enjoy!!!

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