There are plenty of different butters and purees available made purely from nuts, such as peanut butter, almond paste or hazelnut nougat. They all work great in desserts, so I thought a butter made from pumpkin seeds might work in sweets well, too. Although its taste resembles the hazelnut nougat flavor, at the same time it also has a nice pumpkin seed aroma. The consistency of the pure butter is quite thick and first it looks brown, but if you loosen it up with some water or other liquid its color turns into dirty green and the butter gets creamy again. It can be used in batters or creams to both flavor and color them. This also gave me the idea to try the pumpkin seed butter in a soufflé.
Thinking about vegan desserts it was surprising to me how much our usual desserts rely on animal products. Many – if not most – recipes contain either eggs, gelatin, butter, milk, cream or honey. Sometimes not even fruit sorbets are pure because adding some egg white or mascarpone makes their texture less crystalline. On the other hand, many animal products can be substituted: Instead of milk or cream you can create nutritious milk from rice or nuts. In many cases, butter can be substituted by flavorful vegetable oils. Honey too can be replaced by various natural sweeteners such as sugar beet molasses, agave or rice syrup. I believe that all these great plant-based products should not be treated as substitutions only, but rather as full-valued products. If we would stop thinking of them as substitutions and rather see them as full-valued ingredients, many new and creative desserts could be created.
Pumpkins and squashes are extremely versatile. In Hungarian language the butternut squash is called “baking squash” (sütőtök), because traditionally it is simply cut in slices and baked in the oven until nicely caramelized. The name is somehow misleading, because pumpkins and squashes can be also cooked, steamed, or even be eaten raw or marinated. By adding sugar or syrup they work really well in cakes or sweets too. Based on this sweet application I created a mini cake inspired by Dominosteine, a praline of German origin.