Saturday, August 9, 2008

Butternut squash wontons

My love affair with butternut squash continues unabated, so I thought I'd try making a dessert with it. This is a fairly light and subtle dessert, so it'd be good in contrast to a heavy meal or as a sweet hors d'oeuvre. This recipe makes about 50 wontons, so adjust for your needed scale.

(Image courtesy of the also-lovely Nooreen Meghani)


  • One medium butternut squash

  • 1/4 c. real maple syrup

  • 1/4 c. mixed pistachios and almonds

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 6 whole cardamom

  • 1 stick cinnamon

  • 1 brick cream cheese (8 oz.), room temperature

Chop nuts to a medium-coarse powder in a processor or with a pastry cutter; set aside. Crush spices together with mortar and pestle; set aside.

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and pulp, scraping hollow with spoon to remove all fibers (these can give a weird texture if they're left in). Drizzle cut surfaces with oil and rub to coat. Place on baking sheet or in roasting pan and roast at 400°F for one hour. Remove from oven and set out to cool. When cooled completely, remove flesh from skin manually or with a spoon and mash in large mixing bowl. Add maple syrup, nuts, spices, and cream cheese, and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Set aside.

Wonton wrappers (use about three recipes per one of filling)

  • 1 egg

  • 2 c. flour (I like to mix whole-wheat and all-purpose)

  • 1/8 c. powdered sugar

  • Pinch salt

  • 1/3 – 1/2 c. water

Combine dry ingredients. Add egg and half of water. Knead together thoroughly; this is most easily done in a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add water slowly by tablespoonsful, allowing ample time between additions for water to incorporate into mixture.

Note: the final consistency is important, not the specific water content; you want dough which is pliable enough to form a ball and which holds its shape, but which is dry enough not to stick to the fingers (pinching is a good way to test both). The water required will vary wildly depending on humidity, flour density and composition, and the phases of the moon. Be vigilant! If the mixture becomes too moist, add more flour and knead in carefully.

Once the dough is kneaded, place in bowl and cover for about half an hour, giving the glutens time to develop, then roll out thin and cut into squares about three inches on a side (on my Kitchenaid pasta roller, I find that thickness 6 is best, and that the width of the sheets it produces is a good model for the squares).

Because the dough is prone to stickiness, you may find it best to assemble and fry as you go, without first rolling out all the pasta.

In the center of a square of pasta place about a teaspoon of filling, spreading it out somewhat in one direction but keeping well clear of all edges. Fold square over across the length of the filling and seal the long seam by pressing with your fingers. Fold over again, pulling the lump of filling atop the folded noodle, and seal the short edges by pressing again. Finally, pull the two edges up, fold them across the top, and press them together flat to seal into the classic wonton shape (resembles a classic nurse's cap). Fry in 375°F vegetable oil for about 45 seconds or until puffed, crispy, and beginning to brown. Set out to dry and cool on paper, then set aside until completely cool (the filling can stay hot for a few minutes after the wrapper has dried!).

Serve hot or room-temperature with cinnamon-coriander Chantilly cream (if you're a nutter like me). Store in an airtight container at room temperature (refrigeration leads to condensation). If serving well after frying, wontons may become soft and slightly soggy; they can be salvaged by toasting them for a few minutes at 400°F in the oven.

Cinnamon-Coriander Chantilly Cream

  • 1 c. heavy cream

  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar

  • 1.5 tsp. vanilla extract

  • .5 tsp. almond extract

  • .25 tsp. ground coriander

  • .5 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in chilled mixing bowl. Whip with balloon whisk until stiff peaks form. Served chilled.