I am not usually one to experiment with new dishes on major holidays, mostly because I don’t need the stress of a possible failure. But this year I wasn’t in the mood for the traditional, very good, but somewhat heavy sweet potato casserole.
Initially I just decided to forgo it altogether. But while I was cooking on Christmas day I kept on coming back to the cubed Butternut squash I had in the refrigerator. I was going to make soup with it after Christmas, but for some reason I decided to just go and experiment with it for Christmas dinner casserole instead.
I was going for sweet, but I wanted lighter - more flan like, rather than a heavy casserole. But with a little bit of a crunch. And it had to be gluten-free. And it had to be with sugar since my mother in law can’t tolerate any sugar substitutes. Do however feel free to substitute with Ideal sugar substitutes.
And let me tell you - the end result was one of the best Holiday side dishes I’ve had in a long time. It was rich and creamy, but somewhat seemed light and delicate at the same time. Almost like an egg custard, but more substantial. With a decadent creaminess and a delicious little crunch from the topping!
In fact, I’m thinking of making another one today, just because it was so good and everyone enjoyed it so much, including the children. It was super delicious the next day, cold right out of the refrigerator! Almost like a pie!
We even had a couple of people that don’t like butternut squash at the table, that loved this dish!
So here is what I did!
1 Butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (you can also roast it and just use the roasted flesh. In that case skip the boiling!)
3/4 cup white sugar or Ideal Sugar Substitute
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. buttery vanilla baking emulsion or vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 tbsp. vanilla custard powder (the boiling kind, not instant! Or you could substitute corn starch and up the vanilla extract to 3/4 tsp.)
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 cups gluten-free checks cereal, crushed (I used the rice checks)
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar or Ideal Brown Sugar Substitute
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Boil the butternut squash until fork tender in plenty of water. Or roast it in the oven or cook it in the microwave. Whichever way you prefer. As long as the butternut squash is fork tender by the end of it, you’re good!
Brush a 10 inch round casserole dish with some of the melted butter. Set the rest of the butter aside.
Drain (if you boiled it) and let it sit in the colander for a few minutes so the water can really drain out. Return to pot and put them back on the stove to briefly evaporate any remaining water.
Once dry either mash or rice (it’s what I did) the butternut squash. You should have just over 3 cups of mashed/riced butternut squash.
Mix the mash with the white sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, salt, eggs and remaining melted butter. Whisk to combine well. Sprinkle in the custard powder and whisk until all is combined well.
Pour this mix into the buttered casserole dish and bake for 35 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the crushed checks, melted butter and brown sugar in a bowl. Spread over the top of the custard and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crunchy and the custard is set.
Serve hot or cold. Serves 8-10.