I developed the recipe for this sauce with the hardcore pumpkin lover in mind. We all know one (or two): the friend or cousin or sister who extols the virtues of orange food on social media all year long and who might or might not have a secret shrine to winter squash in their closet. No off-the-shelf pumpkin spice product will do for this person. Starbuck's PSL? Pshaw! Child's play.
Made with a healthy dose of actual pumpkin, this sauce will test the validity of any professed P. Spice devotee. Here, I've paired it with Alice Medrich's deep, dark, Best Cocoa Brownies from her cookbook Bittersweet. But I think you could stir it into a latte, serve it over pumpkin cheesecake, or just eat it with a spoon. The look of it is a little squash-y, but unlike pumpkin pie, the visual texture doesn't transfer to the palate. On the tongue, this sauce is silky smooth.
Maple-Pumpkin Caramel Sauce
makes about 2 cups
- 8 ounces maple syrup
- 3 ounces corn syrup
- 5 ounces heavy cream
- 2 ounces butter
- 3 ounces very smooth winter squash puree (see note below for instructions on how to make your own, which I recommend. Or you could use canned pumpkin)
- ¼ teaspoon dried ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Stir together the maple syrup and corn syrup in a large sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook until the mixture has thickened and begins to smell just slightly burned (292° F on an instant read thermometer)
- Stirring constantly, add the cream in a slow, steady stream. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the butter and squash puree. Sift in the spices.
- Cook until the caramel reaches 230° F. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot caramel into a pint size canning jar. Cap and refrigerate, or cool slightly and serve.
To make squash puree, choose a dense-fleshed, cured winter squash. My favorite is Sunshine Kabocha. But Long Island Cheese, Red Kuri, Long Pie, petite Honeynut, or even a gigantic North Georgia Candy Roaster will do great. Heat your oven to 500° F. Roast the squash whole until the flesh is slightly charred and the squash is beginning to collapse in on itself. The skin should give easily when pushed with your finger.
Split the cooked squash in two, scoop out and discard the seeds.
Scoop the remaining flesh from the skin and place it in a food processor, blender, or a Vitamix. Process until you have a very fine puree with absolutely no lumps.
Use what you need to make your sauce and freeze the rest in freezer bags, pressed flat to conserve space.
This roasting method is simple and produces the very best puree. It came to me from the most recent member of the Ragged Coast team, Marc Coombs - a career chef who - lucky for us! - decided to take a chance on chocolate-making.