There’s a Butternut Squash in your boxes today, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  You could make a pumpkin pie, but why not try something a little different?  This has all the flavor of the classic desert,  but with a very different spin.  You can make these in individual ramekins for a nice presentation, or in a traditional flat-sided pie pan.  This recipe is from the New York Times.

Up to 3 days in advance:  Cut 1 butternut squash and cook face-down on a baking sheet at 400 degrees until quite soft and brown on the edges.  Allow to cool, then remove and discard the seedy pulp and skin.  Mash the squash with a fork.

Heat the oven to 350.

Grease 6 ramekins or 1 large gratin dish.

In a large bowl, combine 2 C. chopped dates, 4 T. unsalted butter, 3 t. lemon zest and 2 t. baking soda.  Add 3/4 C. boiling water.  Stir and then allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk in 2 C. mashed butternut, 1/2 t. salt, and 1 C. dark brown sugar.  If you want “pumpkin spice flavor”, you can also add  2 t. cinnamon and 1 t. powdered ginger or cardamom plus a pinch of ground cloves.  When that is all well combined, whisk in 2 C. white flour.

Use a spatula to transfer the batter into the ramekins or gratin dish.  Bake for 30 minutes then check by pressing on the center.  It should be firm.  Remove and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, make the sauce:  In a saucepan, combine 1 C. mashed butternut, 1 C. brown sugar, and 3/4 C. heavy cream and heat to a simmer. Remove from heat and add 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into cubes, and 3 T. of bourbon or brandy (optional).  Use a whisk or immersion blender to mix.

Just before serving, heat the broiler.  Pour the sauce over the pudding or puddings and place them under the broiler until they bubble, about 2 minutes.  Serve with more sauce and creme freche.