Sous vide, gluten-free, and dairy-free
Today I’m going to share with you my recipe for Individual Pumpkin Pie Custards in Jars. These perfectly portioned creamy pumpkin-spiced desserts are made using the sous vide method and have become one of my favorite Thanksgiving menu offerings. They are silky-smooth and decadent in taste plus show-stopping in presentation. These treats are so cute and the perfect size for when you want the smallest taste portion of a holiday dessert without feeling deprived or uncomfortably full. This is my 4th year in a row making this recipe, and I predict I will easily continue to do so for the next 4 years too.
Everyone I’ve served these pumpkin pie custards to raves about them, even if they don’t have any dietary restrictions. I’m not sure whether my favorite feature is how easy they are to make or that I can enjoy a small treat each night to satisfy my holiday sweet tooth, not feel deprived, and not feel like I over-indulged. Because this is prepared in vacuum-sealed individual jars, you won’t have to worry about the desserts not holding up after a few days – if they last that long! Plus, you can conveniently make them in advance! So easy!
My recipe is based on the ChefSteps Pumpkin Pie in a Jar recipe that came with my sous vide machine. I made a few tweaks to make the dessert both dairy and gluten-free so I could enjoy it too. I used sweetened condensed coconut milk instead of the traditional evaporated milk the original recipe calls for. Using sweetened condensed coconut milk is the result of a happy accident where that was all I mistakenly had in my pantry the first time I made it. I cut out the granulated sugar (I would use coconut sugar) the original recipe called for, so it isn’t too sweet. I feel the condensed coconut milk gives the dessert a silkier texture, more like a smooth and creamy pumpkin crème brûlée than a dense pie. Also, if you don’t have all of the individual spices called for, you can easily substitute 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice blend which is readily available this time of year.
This dessert is cooked using a sous vide machine, which is an immersion circulator that precisely heats and circulates the water for even cooking temperature throughout the water bath, with no hot or cold spots. Food is cooked at lower temperatures and for a longer period of time than traditional methods, resulting in significantly better texture and even doneness without overcooking or drying out the final cooked food. It can be used in a large pot or other heat-safe container filled with water. I suppose this recipe could alternatively be made in a large pot equipped with a steam rack and filled with water over a hot stove using a thermometer to keep a steady temperature, but I haven’t used this method or know what conversions might be needed.
If you don’t have a sous vide device, I strongly recommend getting one. They come in lots of varying configurations and many have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for easy remote operation. I have the ChefSteps Joule model, which takes up almost no space when stored in a drawer in my small kitchen. They always go on sale around the holidays, which is when I purchased mine at a significant discount, so get one now if you don’t already own one.
For me, this gadget has been a life-changing and transformative device when it comes to both cooking and reheating food. It makes it near impossible to overcook your food, so you retain valuable nutrients. It also cannot be beaten when it comes to batch cooking and portion control! I’ve used my sous vide for all sorts of dishes ranging from fish and steak, crisp-tender broccoli and asparagus, stews, and desserts. Best juiciest, flavorful, and easiest turkey breast I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot!
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Individual Pumpkin Pie Custards in Jars
- Pumpkin purée (canned), 15 oz
- Organic maple syrup – dark, 1 tablespoon
- Ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
- Nutmeg (fresh grated if possible), ½ teaspoon
- Ground ginger, ½ teaspoon
- Ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon
- Ground allspice, ¼ teaspoon
- Kosher salt, ½ teaspoon
- Eggs, 2 large
- Sweetened condensed coconut milk, 11.25 oz
- Non-dairy coconut or almond whipped topping (comes in a can or tub, like regular whipped cream topping, found in the refrigerated or frozen dairy section)
- Gluten-free ginger snaps
- Preheat sous-vide water bath to 185 °F (85 °C). This will result in a firmer traditional pumpkin pie-like texture. Use a lower temperature of 176° F (80° C) if you want to go creamier and softer like a crème brûlée. The cooking process will take 1 hour. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for your particular sous-vide machine setup.
- In a blender or food processor combine pumpkin puree, all the spices, and salt and mix until smooth and all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Stop and scrape down the sides of the processor as needed.
- Remove the lid and add in the eggs, one at a time. Blend until the eggs are completely incorporated.
- Remove the processor/blender lid and add the sweetened condensed coconut milk and maple syrup. Blend until the milk is completely incorporated.
- At this point, it is very optional to strain the mixture, so it is as silky smooth as possible. Pour the liquid through the mesh strainer over a bowl and use a flexible spatula to help all of the mixture to go through. I honestly only do this occasionally, depending on how chunky and fibrous the canned pumpkin puree is. Otherwise, feel free to leave this extra step out.
- Pour the mixture into the jars so they are 2/3rds full and you have room for toppings. I find using a canning funnel makes this process much easier and less messy and is a must-have kitchen gadget if you use glass jars for food storage.
- Then seal the jars “fingertip tight.” This is a very important step to avoid leakage or jars breaking. Fingertip tight means tightening the lids onto the jars until they’re closed, but loose enough so it’s possible to untighten and open with barely any force by just using your fingertips, without any wrist torque. This allows the trapped air to release from the jars when submerged in water without leaking and without trapped air pressure causing the glass to break when heated. The easiest way to achieve a fingertip tight seal is to use only your fingertips to twist the lid closed on the jar. Once you feel resistance, reverse the twist to loosen once and then reverse back towards the original direction once to gently tighten.
- Using tongs or a jar lifter, very carefully lower the jars into the preheated water to cook. Make certain that none of the jars are touching each other. I know that some people place a kitchen towel in the bottom of the container before they fill it with water to help prevent the jars from moving around and coming into contact to avoid any glass breakage. Set the timer to cook for 1 hour.
- Once your desserts have cooked for an hour, very carefully remove them from water with a jar lifter or tongs and place them on a dry towel on a rack on your counter to dry and cool down a bit. The glass jars will be HOT! Once cool enough to handle, transfer the jars to the fridge to chill for at least two hours before serving.
- To serve, remove the lids, and top with whipped topping and a ginger snap cookie. Alternatively, you can crush the cookies and sprinkle them on top like a crumble for a fancier flourish if you desire.