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A healthy, Thai dessert take on the Thanksgiving pumpkin
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Halloween may be done, but pumpkin season rolls on! And it's a welcome fact of life for a pumpkin lover like me.

This recipe, which reflects the influence of Thai cuisine, is a good example. It stars Thai staples like kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk, and complements them with fat-free evaporated milk. It also calls for canned pumpkin.

Deliciousness aside, pumpkin is a smart choice for dessert. Canned or fresh, it's full of carotenoids and fiber, and it boasts more potassium than a banana. And a cup of canned pumpkin has just 80 calories.

We use fat-free evaporated milk because it has a lovely creaminess. Combined with the coconut milk, as it is here, it delivers the kind of creamy texture that defines a custard... without all the fat and calories. In the end, nobody will suspect that they're digging into custard "lite." —

Thai pumpkin custard

3 large eggs

1/2 cup packed brown sugar, preferably dark

1/2 cup light coconut milk

5 ounces fat-free evaporated milk

2 teaspoons finely minced kaffir lime leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest)

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1 cup pumpkin puree

Chopped crystallized ginger or toasted coconut, to garnish

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a kettle of water to a simmer.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs. Add the brown sugar and beat just until any lumps have dissolved. Add the coconut milk, condensed milk, lime leaves, lime juice, rum, if using, vanilla seeds or extract, salt and pumpkin puree. Beat just until smooth.

Divide the mixture between six 1-cup ramekins. Set the ramekins into a rectangular baking pan (such as a lasagna pan), pour enough simmering water into the baking pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins.

Carefully transfer the baking pan to the oven's middle shelf and bake until a knife inserted at the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 6 hours. Serve each portion topped with some of the crystallized ginger or coconut.

Start to finish • 7 hours 30 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings • 6

Nutrition information per serving • 170 calories; 30 calories from fat (18 percent of total calories); 3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 90 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 23 g sugar; 6 g protein; 170 mg sodium.

Healthy plate • This custard stars kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk, and complements them with fat-free evaporated milk.
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