The butternut squash pudding is a very popular Egyptian dessert, also known as Ar’ Assalyقرع عسلي and comes in many varieties; with or without nuts or coconut shavings, topped with bechamele sauce or with milk thickened with corn starch, with spices or without spices. But only one thing is common among all varieties; the sweet, decadent flavor, that not only leaves you wanting more but also fills you with comfort and satisfaction.
You will need a pot, a mixing bowl, a large mesh strainer and baking dish for this recipe. But most importantly, you will need a sharp knife.
- 2 kg butternut squash
- 1/2 a cup of sugar
- 1 stick of butter
- Crushed nuts of your choice (optional)
For the bechamele sauce
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 cup of cream
- the juice strained from cooking the squash (around 2 cups)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the garnish: ground pistachios
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- Start by peeling the squash using a peeler or a sharp knife. Be careful, the squash has a hard woody skin that requires some force which might risk injuries. Use good tools and be patient.
- Cut the squash vertically in half and spoon out the pulp.
- Proceed to chop the squash into equal sized cubes.
- In a pot, put the squash cubes, the butter and sugar on low-medium heat and let them simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is cooked through and can be mashed by a spoon.
- Place the squash in a strainer on top of a heat-resistant bowl and mash it till it releases all its juice.
- In the same pot, melt a stick of butter and stir in the flour. Allow the flour to cook for a minute until its golden, then add the juice strained from the squash.
- Stir regularly until all the juice is absorbed and the mixture is smooth, then add the milk, cream and vanilla.
- Keep stirring regularly while scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent the sauce from sticking.
- Cook the sauce until it coats the back of the spoon.
- In a buttered baking dish, place the mashed squash (with or without nuts) first and smooth it out with an offset spatula.
- Slowly add the bechamele sauce, to avoid disrupting the layers.
- Top it all with ground pistachios.
- Bake in a 200 °C for 20 minutes.
This dish is resilient, it can be served hot or cold or even in room temperature. It’s not fancy and it is usually homemade in winter to provide warmth and comfort to families. Everyone has a preference when it comes to Ar’ ‘asaly, choose what works for you.