It’s almost Halloween! Here in the Netherlands, we aren’t really used to Halloween yet. You see, Halloween is not actually celebrated around here. Instead, we have St. Martin’s Day, which is celebrated on the 11th of November, when little kids go door to door in the evening, holding pretty lanterns and singing cute little songs, hoping to get some candy. It’s basically Halloween without the costumes.
However, the past few years the month of October has been more and more about pumpkins, spiders and other scary things, as Halloween – like baby showers, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and casterboarding – has blown over from the U.S.. Well, the pumpkins, spiders and scary things have blown over. The whole dressing up and going from door to door thing hasn’t. So although I don’t celebrate St. Martin’s Day anymore and Halloween probably needs a few more years before it’s totally integrated into Dutch culture, I do like to celebrate pumpkin season! With Pumpkies!
Pumpkies? Yes, Pumpkies! Like brownies! Fudgy, pumpkiny little bars! Scrumptious and cute…
To make these, you’ll need some gorgeous, homemade pumpkin purée. And to make homemade pumpkin purée you need pumpkins… Shocking!
So start with some pumpkins!
Oh, and don’t worry about the horse chestnuts. They’re just in the picture because they were lying around on the table. Same with the flowers. Just grabbed them to add a little color-other-than-orange to the picture. It’s not like they were busy or anything…
Now let’s start cooking! Just don’t cook up the big ones! They’re yucky… And for carving… cook up the little baby instead.
Just look at that poor thing… One minute he’s snuggled up against friendly, orange giants, the next minute he’s lying on a chopping board!
I’d really hate to be a pumpkin…
Anyway – enough with the sentiment – cut that thing in half with a sharp knife.
Just don’t cut yourself in the process…
Scoop out the slimy bits and… discard the seeds. Yes, I said it. Discard the seeds. Sure, you can do great things with them, such as roasting, but I tried it and didn’t like the process. Too time consuming. Too much of a fuss. Not worth my time.
Once the pumpkin has been scraped clean and all of the slimy, stringy innards are gone, cut the pumpkin into large wedges.
Now, let’s steam the pumpkin.
My mom once gave me an actual steamer pot, so I always like to use that whenever I need to steam something. However, if you don’t have one of these, just use a steamer basket or even a colander. This guy has some great tips on how to steam without a steamer pot or basket.
Place the pumpkin wedges skin side up in the steamer pot, to ensure that any condensation simply runs back down into the pan. If you were to place the wedges skin down into the steamer, drops of condensation would gather in the little hollows in the center of the wedges.
Steam the pumpkin for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh of the pumpkin has softened.
Take the wedges out of the pan and leave on the countertop until they’re cool enough to handle. With a metal spoon, scrape the flesh from the skin.
Then blitz the pumpkin up…
… until it’s nice and smooth.
And hysterically orange!
Leave the purée to cool to room temperature, then mix together some eggs and sugar.
Drizzle in a little oil, mixing at the same time (which is very difficult when you also need to take a picture of the oil going in the mixing bowl).
Once the oil has been incorporated, add the cooled pumpkin purée and mix again.
Just look at that color! Doesn’t that look healthy? Don’t be fooled, though… There’s also plenty of unhealthiness in there!
Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers to make sure all the sugar has dissolved. If it has, great. Proceed with the next step. If it hasn’t, mix a little longer until is has.
Once the sugar has dissolved, stir together the dry ingredients and add them to the mix. See the spices in there? Cinnamon, nutmeg and a little ground cloves…
Mix until smooth, pour the batter in a prepped brownie pan and bake!
Just look at how gorgeously fudgy these are!
Not cakey at all!
Oh, and those carving pumpkins? They didn’t escape me either!
This is the big one! We call him the Pirate Pumpkin, because he looks like he’s saying arrrr!
Then I made this guy. He’s the funny one.
Kinda reminds me of Ernie… You know, from Bert…
Oh, and I’ve made this one too! It wasn’t in the picture at the top, because I’d already made it and it was in the fridge, waiting to be dropped off at my sister’s house. My 3-year-old nephew loved this one! My 2-year-old niece not quite so much…
His name is Mr. Scary.
Mr. Scary was actually the first pumpkin I ever carved. Not bad, right?
Enjoy the pumpkies! And Halloween! Or St. Martin’s Day! Or both! Why not?
- 1100g (or a little less than 2½ pounds) fresh pumpkin
- 2 large eggs
- 190g (or ¾ cup + 3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 120ml (or ½ cup) sunflower oil
- 140g (or 1 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- big pinch of table salt
- With a sharp serrated knife, cut the pumpkin(s) in half. Scrape out the seeds and pulp with a metal spoon and cut the pumpkin into large wedges. Place the pumpkin wedges skin side up in a large steamer pot or steamer basket, put the lid on and steam for about 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin has softened. Take the wedges out of the steamer and leave to cool on the countertop for about 10 minutes before scraping the pumpkin flesh out with a spoon. Blitz to a smooth purée with a stick or regular blender or pass the pumpkin flesh through a sieve instead. You should have about 475g (or a little over 1 pound) of pumpkin purée. Leave to cool on the countertop.
- Once the pumpkin purée has cooled, preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F (standard oven setting) and line a 26x16-cm (10x6-inch) brownie pan with baking parchment. This goes best when you first lightly butter the pan.
- In a large bowl, quickly mix together the eggs and sugar. Slowly drizzle in the oil, mixing continuously. Mix in the pumpkin purée. Rub a little bit of the mixture between your fingers, to see if the sugar has dissolved. If it hasn't continue mixing until it has. Once the sugar has dissolved, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. These pumpkies are incredibly moist and fudgy, so don't worry if the tester comes out moist as well.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into twelve bars. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.