Steamed Butternut Squash and Vanilla Custard

Alan Coxon gives us a taste of Thailand with an impressive dessert that is sliced to reveal attractive layers of squash and set custard
By Alan Coxon
Steamed Butternut Squash and Vanilla Custard
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus overnight chilling
  • Effort: medium


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 175 ml thin cream
  • 90 g brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 leaves gelatine, soaked in water

For the syrup

  • 2 oranges
  • 60 g sugar
  • 1 sticks cinnamon


1. Remove the top cylindrical portion of the squash and reserve for use in other dishes. Using a metal spoon, carefully remove the seeds and pith from the bottom piece and hollow it out slightly leaving most of the flesh intact. Remove a small slice at the base of the squash to help it stand upright. Set aside.

2. Split open the vanilla pod using a small pointed knife and scrape the black seeds from inside. Set them aside to use later and put the husks in a saucepan with the cream and brown sugar. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly. Combine the cornflour with a little water in a small dish and add the paste to the warm cream, stirring continuously. Bring the up to a simmer, still stirring, then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

4. Squeeze the water from the soaked gelatine leaves, add them to the cream and stir until dissolved. Strain the cream mixture over the eggs, mixing well, and remove the husks of the vanilla pod. Stir in the vanilla seeds.

5. Pour the custard into the butternut squash until the custard is level with the top of the squash. Cover the squash with cling film to protect it from steam then place in a steamer over gently simmering water. Cover and steam for around 1 hour, or until the custard is set. Remove the squash from the steamer, leave it to cool, then refrigerate overnight.

6. Meanwhile, for the syrup, pare the zest from one orange and cut it into fine julienne, then juice both oranges. Combine in a saucepan with the sugar and cinnamon and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and reduce until the mixture is syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, lifting out the cinnamon stick.

7. When ready to serve, remove the squash from the fridge and gently remove the skin with a very sharp knife. Slice the squash with its set custard inside and serve with the orange and cinnamon syrup.

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