Custard Filled Kuri Squash

Custard Filled Kuri Squash
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custard filled squash
Not as good as it could be.

Many years ago, one of us went to a Thai restaurant with a large group of people, one of whom was from Thailand. He ordered for the table so that we’d be sure to have authentic Thai dishes. For dessert, we had custard-filled pumpkin, which was delicious. When we picked up our Kuri squash this past Wednesday, we thought they might be the perfect vehicle for making this traditional Thai dish.

So, we looked up “Thai pumpkin custard” on the Internet and found that, traditionally, the custard is made with coconut milk or cream. Well, we had neither, nor the coconut palm sugar. We didn’t want to track these down, so we just scratched up something that we thought might be similar.

Custard Filled Kuri Squash

Yield: about 8 servings

Custard Filled Kuri Squash


  • 3/4 cup half and half (or coconut milk, preferred)
  • 2 Tbs shredded sweetened coconut (omit, if using coconut milk)
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin (or other small winter squash)
  • 3 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Abbreviated Instructions

Place half and half, coconut, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat, cover, and let steep about an hour.

Add vanilla and pinch of cinnamon and transfer to a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Add eggs and blend on medium-low until incorporated.

Cut top off pumpkin and scoop out pulp and seeds.

Strain custard mix into pumpkin. Place pumpkin in steamer and steam for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender and a skewer inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean.

Cool completely and refrigerate.

To serve, mix together powdered sugar and cinnamon. Slice pumpkin into wedges and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.

Ingredient discussion:

As we found out, you really want to go with a sweeter squash; those small sugar pumpkins are probably the best choice. We were attempting to make a coconut-flavored cream, and it worked, sort of. Next time we’ll seek out real coconut milk. As always, use fresh, tasty eggs, the kind that come from hens allowed to forage on grasses and bugs.

Procedure in detail:

steeping coconut
We attempted to add some coconut flavor to half and half by letting it steep; it sort of worked, but just barely.

Steep. If you don’t have coconut milk, you can try this: place half and half in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the coconut and sugar and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat, cover, and let steep until cool, about an hour. If you’re using coconut milk, you can skip this and the blending step; i.e., just whisk in the flavorings and eggs.

adding vanilla and cinnamon
Vanilla goes with everything, doesn’t it?

Add flavors. Add the vanilla and pinch of cinnamon (about 1/8 teaspoon) to the cooled cream, and stir in. Feel free to taste the cream mixture and adjust to your taste.

Blend. Place the cream mixture into a blender and process on high until smooth. This will probably take about a minute or two to get the coconut ground up.

blending coconut
Blending in the coconut helped add more coconut flavor, but still not enough.

Add eggs. Drop the eggs into the blended cream mixture and blend on a low-speed until completely incorporated and smooth. Let the mixture settle while you clean the squash.

cleaning kuri squash
Think of this as practice for carving pumpkins for Hallowe’en.

Clean squash. Just as with a small jack-o-lantern, cut off the top of your pumpkin (or squash) and scoop out the seeds. You can roast up the seeds for a little treat, or just discard them. Scrape all the stringy strands from the inside of the squash and discard.

steaming custard filled squash
The custard will expand while cooking; see the next photo.

Fill. Hold a strainer over the opening of the pumpkin and strain the custard mix through. You’ll have finely-ground coconut that will get caught in the strainer, so you might have to clean it once or twice to keep the liquid flowing. Stop filling when the cream mixture is about 1/2 to 1/4 an inch from the top, as it expands as it cooks.

improvised steamer
Our improvised steamer, a rack suspended in a large kettle by some twist ties.
steaming custard filled squash
It didn’t overflow, thank goodness, but it was close.

Steam. If you have a steamer, you’re all set. Otherwise, think of an improvisation. We used a rack suspended from the handles of a pan and resting about 2 inches from the bottom. Then we added an inch of water. Place the custard-filled pumpkin on the rack, cover, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low to keep the steam going, and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is very tender and a skewer inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean.

Cool. Remove the steamer from the heat, remove the cover, and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer the squash to a plate and cool completely in the refrigerator.

making cinamon sugar
Use one part cinnamon and three parts powdered sugar to make nice-looking and tasting cinnamon sugar.

Make cinnamon sugar. Probably not traditional, but we liked it, and thought that it made our version taste pretty good. In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar and cinnamon until uniform in color.

custard filled kuri squash
We think the custard-filled squash is traditionally served unadorned to show off the contrast between the custard and the pumpkin.

Serve. Slice off wedges of the pumpkin and set them custard side up. Dust with the cinnamon sugar and enjoy.

Our idea for flavoring the half and half with coconut didn’t work very well. We really couldn’t taste any coconut, so, if possible, make something more traditional with real coconut milk (see this Thai Pumpkin Custard, for example). Also, the Kuri squash just wasn’t sweet enough (nor the custard, but, then, we only used half the sugar that we’ve listed in the recipe — we didn’t know how much to add when we first made this), so look for a small sugar pumpkin and you’ll be fine. All things considered, we’ll have to say our attempt was somewhat a failure, especially compared to the real-deal that we remember, so two stars.

Worth the trouble?

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