How to cook Korean pumpkin and make your own vegan pumpkin latte!

Well, it is early November now which can only mean one thing. If you didn’t already guess it from the title of this post… PUMPKIN!

Here in Korea a pumpkin is called a hobak (pronounced ho-bawk.) They are different from their western cousins in that the outside is green and the texture when cooked is a bit more pasty and slightly drier, as opposed to stringy and juicy. They are kind of like sugar pumpkins back home but… less sweet. It doesn’t sound like I’m selling you on them much but they really are delicious and so versatile! Koreans typically use them in savoury dishes but they work well both ways and can easily replace (orange?) pumpkin in recipes. I still remember how ecstatic I was to find out that I could still buy and eat pumpkin here because it’s one of my all time favourite things about this season. Best of all, hobak come in all different sizes which means if you’re like me and have a tiny fridge and freezer it is super convenient to buy smaller pumpkins that you can cook and freeze easily. Yippee!

As this is my second fall in Korea and hobak are once again in season, I shall share with you my method for preparing them to use in your favourite recipes ^^

Wash your pumpkin and start by making 5 or 6 cuts starting about an inch or so from the stem outward. Make sure you’re cutting downward through the rind! This will make 5 or 6 wedges.

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Now, cut around the stem at a slant and remove it.

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Now simply break apart your pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and cut into 2 inch pieces.

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Coat roasting pan with a few teaspoons of grapeseed oil (or any mild flavoured oil) and roast your pumpkin! If you are using a toaster oven (like me and many others in Korea) set your oven to the highest temperature. Roast until the pumpkin is soft and you can pierce each piece through easily with a fork. For me this takes about 20 minutes.

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Let pumpkin cool on the roasting pan and scoop out into a blender or food processor (discarding the green rind.) Process for a couple of minutes until smooth. I prefer my pumpkin to still taste like fresh pumpkin and so I don’t like processing it to the point that it’s too smooth and similar to the canned product. You can of course mash with a fork or potato masher but for the sake of pure laziness I prefer to use my processor 😉

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The fresh pumpkin will last a few days in the fridge but I prefer to freeze it so I have the freedom to use it at any time. I measure 1/2 cup into plastic bags so I know how much is there when I defrost it.

Now that we have fresh pureed pumpkin let’s use it! Pumpkin lattes are almost impossible to find in Korea. Starbucks here doesn’t include them in their seasonal menu but the homemade version is far more delicious anyway so I encourage you to make your own!

This latte is topped with homemade coconut whipped cream which you should assemble before you make your latte. There are many recipes out there for this but I’ll share with you what I like to do! First you need to chill your can of coconut milk overnight in the fridge. Of the brands I’ve tried here, this one is my favourite.

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Once chilled, scoop out the hard cream into a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. The vanilla is essential to change the flavour of the cream so don’t exclude it! It’s best to use beaters to mix the cream but a whisk works fine too. Just mix until there are no clumps. You won’t get stiff peaks but coconut milk behaves differently from regular cream anyway and we don’t need peak-y cream for our lattes!

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Set aside cream in the fridge. It will thicken more as it cools.

Now on to the lattes! Heat your almond milk over med-low heat, whisking continuously. To get a foam going, tilt your pot and whisk just above your burner. I find the most effective way to get a good foam is to whisk up and down. Once warm, add the cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue to whisk for 1-2 minutes and once a decent foam has started, add your pumpkin and maple syrup. Now whisk like crazy and foam it up! Increase the heat slightly to get more foam. Continue to whisk for another 1-2 minutes until the mixture has foamed up to your liking and starts to gently boil.

Pour your coffee or espresso in a mug and add vanilla. Holding back the foam at first with a spoon, pour the latte over the coffee. Now scoop on the foam and add a few dollops of coconut whipped cream and a pinch of nutmeg. The end result is a creamy and satisfying latte that is delicious without the coffee too (ha) so you can make it both ways to drink any time of day or night. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Latte 

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (homemade works best)

2 heaping tablespoons pumpkin

3 teaspoons maple syrup

heaping 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

dash nutmeg

1 shot of espresso or 1/3 cup strong black coffee

two drops of vanilla (optional)

 

Coconut whipped cream

1 can chilled coconut milk (make sure there is no carageenan in it)

1 tablespoon powdered sugar (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

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