Easy Autumn Treat: Roast Pumpkin with Nuts, Berries, and Maple Syrup

Great for a camping trip, a bonfire, a Halloween party, or a new Thanksgiving dessert tradition, this easy autumn treat uses local ingredients and tastes wonderful! Try it at your next fall gathering. You might even want to make two or three.

What You Need

  • A pumpkin. Get one of the small ones, the size and type for pies.
  • A whole lot* of walnuts. You can shell them yourself (lots of work) or get them pre-shelled.
  • A bunch of dried cherries.
  • A bunch of dried cranberries. They look a lot like dried cherries, but they’re much more tart.
  • About a quarter stick to a half stick of butter, depending on how much you like butter.
  • Maple syrup galore. Get real maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup.

*As always, my amounts are deliberately vague. There are no standardized pumpkin sizes, after all, and you may want a more nutty mix, or more cherries than cranberries. Have fun with this, and don't sweat the proportions.

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Image Credit: InfrogmationImage Credit: Broken SphereImage Credit: GeoffImage Credit: Tomtheman5Image Credit: GaritzkoImage Credit: Miguel Andrade
Image Credit: Infrogmation
Image Credit: Infrogmation
Image Credit: Broken Sphere
Image Credit: Broken Sphere
Image Credit: Geoff
Image Credit: Geoff
Image Credit: Tomtheman5
Image Credit: Tomtheman5
Image Credit: Garitzko
Image Credit: Garitzko
Image Credit: Miguel Andrade
Image Credit: Miguel Andrade

What You Do

Step one: kill your pumpkin.

Save the seeds and separate them from the guts. You can spread them on a lightly greased cookie sheet, sprinkle some salt on them, and bake them for a while, and you'll have crunchy roast pumpkin seeds, too! Be sure to only remove the seeds and the stringy pumpkin guts. Don't scrape out the pumpkin's flesh; it's an important part of the dessert.

Once your pumpkin is emptied out, start filling it up with the ingredients. Mix the berries and walnuts together in a bowl to get them more or less evenly distributed. Then spoon them into empty pumpkin. When it’s about half full of berry-nutty goodness, put in the butter. One big chunk in the middle is fine. Fill in the gaps with more berries and nuts, but make sure the top of the pumpkin will fit snugly when you’re done.

I like to put a notch in my lid, so I know where it fits best, like this:

Also, angle the cut so the bottom of the lid is smaller than the top. Otherwise it will want to fall in when you test for fit.
Also, angle the cut so the bottom of the lid is smaller than the top. Otherwise it will want to fall in when you test for fit.

When you’ve got your pumpkin just full enough of your butter-berry-nut combination so the lid fits snugly, pour in the maple syrup. You’ll want to use about half a cup. That will seem like a lot, but trust me.

Put the Lid on Your Pumpkin and Roast It

If you’re making this dessert at a bonfire or camp-out, the best place to cook the pumpkin is in the fire. You don’t want to do this in a roaring fire with leaping flames; that will ruin your pumpkin rather than roast it. You want a bed of coals. Scrape the coals to one side of your firepit. You might want to spread some ash on top if the coals are still really really hot. Set your pumpkin directly onto the bed of coals. Scrape some more coals up around the bottom of the pumpkin. Don’t bury it, just kind of build a collar around the base so it won’t roll around. Now wait about 45 minutes to an hour.

If you’re at home, you can do this in the fireplace (if you have a wood-burning one), or you can just put your pumpkin in the oven at about 350°. Set it on a pie tin if you use the oven.

When the time is up, get some oven mitts and very carefully remove the pumpkin from the fire. The sides of the pumpkin will have become quite soft by this time, so you will need to take care not to use too much strength. Otherwise you might smoosh your delicious dessert before you get to taste it. You may even need to slide a spade under the pumpkin to get it out of the fire. At home, just use the pie tin to lift the pumpkin out of the oven.If everything goes as it should, when you lift the lid off your roast pumpkin, the pumpkin flesh will be soft and easy to scoop out along with the rest of the stuff you put in there. Use a long-handled spoon to mix the pumpkin with the nuts and berries, being careful not to pierce the pumpkin skin from the inside. Scoop the mixture into bowls and serve plain, or with whipped cream, or with vanilla ice cream.

Logistical Notes

You can prepare your pumpkin ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for about a day. I wouldn’t risk leaving it in there any longer than that.

One medium-sized pie pumpkin (4-5 pounds) can serve about four adults. If you want to get super fancy, choose the smallest pumpkins and make one for each guest. Make sure you'll have enough space in your oven for all of those pumpkins, though.

You can also make this dessert with coarsely chopped apples instead of the dried berries. If you do this, you can get away with using less syrup. The apple chunks will provide the needed moisture. The apple option works well with a ground up cinnamon stick in the mix. Some nutmeg might give your roast pumpkin more of a pumpkin-pie-taste. You can also experiment with cloves or ginger. Don't be afraid to experiment!

As always, for the best, freshest ingredients, get them at your local farmers’ market.

Happy Fall!

Muhuhahahahaaaaa! (Image Credit: Toby Ord)
Muhuhahahahaaaaa! (Image Credit: Toby Ord)

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Comments 7 comments

 6 years ago

August's gusts augur

the auroral autumn ahead,

Roasted pumpkins,nuts and berries

basking in real maple syrup,

crackling campfire comraderie,

pagan tribal feast beneath the harvest moon. g.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

What a lovely poem! You made my day. I wish you'd left your name so I could thank you properly.


Tim_511 profile image

Tim_511 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

Hey, Jeff, is there anything that you could substitute for the nuts and still keep the basic idea? It sounds good, but I'm allergic to tree nuts.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Gosh, I don't know, Tim. Maybe if you used all kinds of different dried (or fresh) fruit? Apples work okay; perhaps if you tried mixing in maybe raisins?

I've never not used walnuts in the mix; I love walnuts.

Anybody out there know what goes well with pumpkin and maple syrup, and also won't kill Tim?

Oh, I just had a thought...I wonder what this would taste like if you put loose breakfast sausage meat in the mix...I'd brown the sausage first, as if I were going to make a pan of sausage gravy for eating with biscuits, but then I'd mix the cooked sausage with the dried cherries and cranberries (and maybe apple), dump it into the pumpkin and add the syrup. You wouldn't need the butter for this, since the sausage will take care of that function for you. Dang, now I'm all hungry. If I end up trying the sausage-y version, I'll let you know how it works out. If you should try it before I do, please let me know!


Tim_511 profile image

Tim_511 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

I sure will let you know if I get to try it soon. Thanks for the ideas!


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

This is a fantastic idea! No dishes and a great campfire idea! I will bookmark for the fall harvest. Sure to become a favorite! Thank you!


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 5 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Hey, Tim,

So I tried the sausage-in-a-pumpkin thing yesterday. I mixed the cooked breakfast sausage with chunks of apple, put it in the pumpkin and roasted it. I left the syrup out. It was pretty good, but not everyone who tried it liked it. (I did, though.) If I had it to do over, I'd mix in some cranberries or cherries with the sausage and apple.

So, yes, you can do this without nuts, and it's pretty good. But it's not vegetarian.

JB

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