I wasn't going to carve a pumpkin this year - although I was very happy with last year's attempt - but on Friday I was in Waitrose and they had cute little carving pumpkins, so I couldn't resist.
My nod to Halloween was going to be a pumpkin pie. Which I really like. Paul was sceptical though: he felt that it could easily be too pumpkin-y and not spicy enough. So I gave it some serious thought and came up with something mid-way between pumpkin pie and cheesecake, but quite a lot lighter than either.
It's a rich vanilla shortbread base (pretty much the base from Joy of Baking's Millionaire's Shortbread), topped with a spiced yoghurt and butternut puree. It turned out beautifully: Paul liked it, so I think even other pumpkin pie sceptics could be turned around by this.
Pumpkin Yoghurt Slice
170g butter, softened
50g golden caster sugar
1/2tsp vanilla bean paste
100g plain flour
100g tapioca flour
400g TOTAL Greek yoghurt (I'm still using the enormous supply they kindly sent me)300g butternut squash (this is the raw, peeled weight)
85ml maple syrup
1tsp pumpkin pie spice (I haven't seen pumpkin pie spice in the UK, I used this blend)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 7" x 11" lamington tin with baking parchment.
Cut the butternut into small chunks and bake for about half an hour until tender but not too brown.
Place the maple syrup in a small pan and boil for a few minutes until slightly reduced, then cool. You want it the consistency of honey, not toffee.
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla paste with a wooden spoon until fluffy, then add the flours and mix to a paste. I find it easiest to bring it together with my hands towards the end. Press firmly into the base of the lamington. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven.
Force the cooked butternut through a sieve so you have a smooth puree. Discard the fibrous bits left in the sieve. Beat into the puree the cooled, reduced maple syrup, the yoghurt and spices. Taste, and add more spices if needed, remembering that the flavours will develop more with cooking. Then beat in the eggs.
Pour the filling mixture over the shortbread base and return to the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes or until just set in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool.
I topped it with some caramelised almond flakes but that is optional.
Serve at room temperature.