color by numbers

mindless musings of a semi-creative guy

Tasty Tuesdays – Thai Desserts

custard-pumpkin-3Today’s featured Thai food is a dessert of custard and pumpkin.

The first time we lived in Thailand (back in 2005), I had seen this particular dish in the market many times, but as no one had ever invited me to taste it, I never did.  This time around, while at a new Thai friend’s home, this is what she offered for dessert after giving me some Thai cooking lessons.

This dessert has 2 very important elements, that must be eaten together in order get the full flavor of the dessert.  If eaten separately, the result is rather simple and bland.  We’ll start with the outside of this dessert – the pumpkin.  Now, you’ve probably already noticed that this pumpkin looks strange compared to what you usually find lurking around the States in autumn.  This is actually a Japanese variety, called the Kabocha squash.  It’s flavor is quite similar to that of the American orange pumpkins and sweet potato, but with less water content.  This is what we used for our Thanksgiving pies this year, adding a few drops of coloring to make them look a little bit more like home.

The other element of this dessert is the custard.  It is a simple, coconut-based custard, which eaten on its own may lack much interest in flavor.  It features coconut milk, as many Thai dishes do, as well as vanilla, eggs, and palm sugar.  I have had it with cinnamon, as well as cardamom.  Both are delightful.

Once the custard is made, it is poured into a cleaned Kabocha, and steamed for 45 minutes to an hour.  It is the steaming process that not only softens the flesh of the squash, but also allows the custard to leak some of its flavor into the Kabocha as it cooks inside.  Once fully cooked, it is best to allow it to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.  If serving slightly warm, vanilla or coconut ice cream are a nice accompaniment.  You can also chill the whole squash, then slice and serve it cold.  Either way, it tastes great – just be sure to eat each bite with both custard and squash in order to get the full effect!  Trust me, it’s better that way.

If you would like to learn how to make this recipe for yourself, click here for the recipe, as well as an instructional video (also containing suitable American ingredient substitutions).  Enjoy!


January 5, 2010 - Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays, Thailand | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. is it kinda like cheesecake then? i’ve have pumpkin cheesecake and that’s good. novel idea to cook it in the squash! makes for a pretty service as well

    Comment by mom | January 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. Nope, not like cheesecake, since it’s just cream, eggs, and sugar. It’s more like flan. It also doesn’t have the flavor of pumpkin that were used to in pie or cheesecake, because all of those spices aren’t used in this particular dish. It’s very plain and mild.

    That’s why you have to eat each bite with both custard and the pumpkin, because the pumpkin is what gives it its bite. Again, like flan, the custard isn’t what holds the most flavor, rather it’s the caramely top that packs the punch. The custard is just there for texture and smoothness really. 🙂

    Comment by Sara | January 5, 2010 | Reply

  3. huh, i wonder what it would taste like if you flavored the custard like pumpkin pie?

    Comment by mom | January 6, 2010 | Reply

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