Chai Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cups with Maple Sugared Pecans
Despite the long ingredient list, this recipe is really quite simple and, best of all, can be made a couple days ahead.
Cook Time: 30 minutes, plus a few hours to chill
Prep Time: 20 minutes
For the Pudding:
3 ½ cups whole milk
1 stick of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds
4 whole cloves
3 whole peppercorns
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
For the Topping:
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves
½ cup whipping cream
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- Pour the milk into a large saucepan and add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and nutmeg. Cut the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds into the milk and then add the vanilla pod to the milk as well. Stir gently a few times to combine. Heat milk and spices over low heat, just until milk begins to steam; do not allow the milk to boil. Remove the milk from the heat, cover with a lid and allow the spices to steep for about 20 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve into another large pan.
- Whisk the salt, sugar, and cornstarch together and add them to the hot milk. Heat the milk on low again, whisking constantly, until it just begins to steam. Whisk half of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks, then return the milk/egg mixture to the pan. Continue to heat milk on low, whisking constantly, until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. It will continue to thicken as it cools, so you don’t want it to be too thick. Remove from heat.
- Strain the milk and egg mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps or pieces of cooked egg. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk well to combine. Divide the pudding between six 8-ounce jars, custard cups or small bowls. The cups will only be half full in order to leave room for whipped cream and nuts on top. Place plastic wrap on the surface of each cup of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
- For maple pecans to top: Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the maple syrup, sugar and salt. Add the pecan halves and toss to coat. Pour the pecans out on a well-buttered sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Toss the pecans and bake for 5 minutes more, checking frequently to prevent burning. Remove from oven when pecans are golden brown. Cool and chop pecans roughly.
- To serve: Remove the plastic wrap from the top of each pudding cup. Pour the whipping cream into a chilled metal bowl along with 1 tablespoon white sugar and the extra ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Top each pudding cup with a few tablespoons of whipped cream and about 2 tablespoons of the chopped candied pecans.