This is a fun recipe to make! Especially with kids (while the fun lasts –if you know what I mean).
On pumpkins– I didn’t use a pie pumpkin. To be honest, I don’t even know truly what a pie pumpkin is. I think they are smaller and probably bred to be sweeter rather than BIG for carving. However, in my kitchen, when you want to do something, you just “do it with whatcha’ got or else it don’t get done.” We have homegrown, round, larger-sized pumpkins. I’ve been using them for soup, pie, and this baked, stuffed pumpkin and getting by just fine. The kids have been eating the recipes all up! That’s how I often define kitchen success.
So don’t wait for perfect, walk out to the front porch and get started!
Baked Pumpkin In A Half-Shell
- 1 smallish pumpkin (or double the filling if it’s biggish!)
- 2-3 large apples, cored, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch or so sized chunks
- 8 whole, pitted, dried dates
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely ground
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (or just use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice mixed as you like)
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla
- 1/4-1/2 cup, depending on your sweet tooth, of maple syrup or honey (or a combination)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- Raisins, currants, and/or dried cranberries, IF DESIRED, as much as desired
Note: Directions are “long” with detail, but basically you just cut, chop, mix, and bake. Easy.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
2. Wash the pumpkin and cut it in half lengthwise (from stem end to bottom end–or from its forehead region to its chin region–however you want to think about it).
3. Scoop out the pulp and seeds. Reserve seeds for roasting later for a snack. Discard the stringy pulp.
4. Set aside one of the pumpkin halves to be stuffed later.
5. The other half needs peeled and cut into small 1/2 inch chunks. The way I do this is this: I cut the unpeeled pumpkin into 1-2 inch chunks. Then, I sit the pumpkin slice on its side so the I can use a paring knife (I actually use a steak knife because they sit out on the counter, but this is not proper) to slice the peel off in one piece. I take the peeled pieces and then cut them up into fine 1/2 inch pieces.
6. You can stop chopping if you want when you get about 1/2 of a cup. Place the chopped pumpkin aside in a medium-sized bowl. Put the unpeeled pumpkin in a baggie in the fridge to use for a later recipe you are thinking about making.
7. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/2 inch chunks. Add to chopped pumpkin in the bowl.
8. In a food processor, place 8 dried whole date pieces. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add in the 1/2 cup of walnuts. Process until the walnuts are very fine, but not yet walnut butter. Place this mixture in a large bowl. (If you do not have a food processor, your blender may work. If you don’t have a blender, the next best thing would be a food chopper, chopping like crazy. If the walnuts are chunky, I’m afraid the recipe won’t fly with kids. Not my kids for sure.)
9. Place 1/2 cup of pecans in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add to the walnut and date mixture.
10. Stir in the coconut and pumpkin pie spice. (If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, shoot for about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 1/2 teaspoonful of allspice. Omit the ginger and allspice if you don’t have them!)
11. In a separate small bowl, mix salt, vanilla, 1/4-1/2 cup honey or maple syrup or combination and 1/4 cup of coconut oil (in its melted, liquid state). Stir well to mix. Pour over nut and date mixture. Mix well to coat.
12. Add the pumpkin and apple chunks to the nut mixture and stir well.
13. If desired, add some dried fruit if you’d like, as much as you’d like (maybe 1/4 of a cup). My kids don’t care for baked dried fruit too much so I don’t add much at all.
14. Put the mixture you just created into the cavity of the spare pumpkin half. Place on a baking sheet because it can definitely bake over.
15. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) until the pumpkin shell is fork tender, about 60-90 minutes. You just have to check it periodically. There will be lots of juices.
16. Allow the pumpkin to cool, and as it cools, the juices will reabsorb.
17. Spoon it out. As you dish it out, you may take a bit of the side of the pumpkin shell, as well.
18. If I could, it would be stellarly complete with whipped cream or ice cream!
Variation: Just cut off the top of the pumpkin as you would for carving. Scoop out the insides, and stuff with the mixture. So the pumpkin is basically a “bowl.”
Family “gustar” report: 5/5 thought it was great. 4/5 went for seconds. (The family is me, my husband, a very choosy nine-year old, a 7-year-old, and a 4-year-old.) There was a small bowl left for the fridge, and the dessert tasted delicious refrigerated, too!
This is a great dessert, especially for this time of year. I was pleased with how well my family loved it! I feel so good when we find desserts that they really like that I think actually provide some needed nutrients! Cake and cookies are food for your psychology, but this dessert delivers some needed nutrients, too!
My daughter just came in to peek at the post. “Can you make that again, Mama?” It’s a good one. Try it!