This traditional holiday dessert from Barbados, West Indies is a nice cold-weather dessert reminiscent of both pumpkin pie and bread pudding. It would make a unique Thanksgiving dessert alternative. —Karen Albright Lin
banana leaves, rinsed and patted dry
packed light brown sugar
unsalted butter, melted
calabaza or kabocha squash, seeded, pared, and shredded
With scissors, cut 12 banana leaf squares, 9” x 9”. Tear remaining leaf pieces into 1/4” wide strips. Pour boiling water over the leaf squares and strips to make them pliable, then drain.
In a large bowl whisk together brown sugar, milk, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, and almond extract until smooth. Whisk in melted butter. Then whisk in cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir in coconut powder, squash, yam, and raisins.
Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the mixture into the center of a banana leaf square. Fold over the top and bottom to enclose the filling, then fold in the sides to form a packet.
Gently flatten the filling to an even thickness of 1 to 1 1/2 inch. Tie up the packet with a leaf strip to keep the flap from unfolding.
Arrange the packets in a circle, overlapping, like the petals of a flower, in a steamer.
Cover and steam over 2 inches of water on medium-low heat (checking water level occasionally) 1 hour.
In a chilled bowl, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Beat in the sugar and vanilla.
Serve Conkies warm, placing the parcels on dessert plates, so that each person may unwrap his own dessert.