When I graduated from college (many years ago), my grandmother asked me what I wanted as a gift. "Your recipes," I answered. After a period of disbelief, she got down to work, culling and deciphering and typing. A couple of years later, I got the crinkly sheaf of onion-skin paper. In the pack were not one but THREE recipes for pumpkin custard. Had she loved it that much? Were the recipes so different?
I tested two of the three -- NOT the one made with red wine -- and #1 was the clear winner. I do as Gram did, using Libby’s pumpkin: Pumpkin is a vehicle for the spices, so canned is perfect.
This is essentially pumpkin pie with no crust — good for the gluten-challenged and those leery of crust-making. The cream isn't necessary, but don't use less than whole milk or you'll have a watery mess. And for anyone crazed by Thanksgiving prep, this dessert can be baked one day ahead and refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart casserole or baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, both sugars and molasses. Add the spices, salt, melted butter, beaten eggs and milk or cream. Mix well.
Pour mixture into the baking dish. Set the dish into a larger pan and add an inch or two of hot water. Transfer pan combination carefully to preheated oven.
Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until set (top will rise up and crack slightly). Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit before serving. Serve warm, room temperature or cold, with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream if you've got it.