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Pumpkin Pudding Cake
"Budino di Zucca"
(Serves 4 to 6)
Pumpkin Pudding Cake from the Veneto region of Italy
Italians use pumpkin in many dishes including soups, breads, cakes, and puddings.  Pumpkin is also found in pasta sauces, in gnocchi, as well as in stuffed pastas, such as pumpkin tortelloni.  Pumpkin is especillay popular in Northern Italian and Sicilian cuisines.  This recipe for Pumpkin Pudding Cake is from the Veneto region.  It is a dense, moist dessert with the consistency of pumpkin pie and the added flavors and texture of candied orange, ginger, and pine nuts.  Serve the budino with espresso or grappa.
Pumpkin Pudding Cake -  Budino di Zucca

1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup grappa or rum
20 amaretti cookies, finely crushed
1 (15 ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel
1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving


In a small bowl, combine the raisins and grappa; set aside until needed.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Generously butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
Evenly spread the crushed amaretti on the bottom of the baking dish; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, milk,  and egg yolks.  Add the raisins with the grappa, pine nuts, candied orange peel, and candied ginger.  Mix until the ingredients are well blended.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Continue beating until the whites form stiff peaks.  Use a spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture, until no white streaks remain.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top looks a little crusty.

Remove from the oven and let it cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
Run a knife around the inside edges of the pan to loosen it.  Then invert the cake onto a serving dish.  Let the cake cool completely before serving.
Cut into squares to serve.  Top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

The flavor of the budino actually improves after a day or two and may be refrigerated for up to one week.
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The pine nut is actually the tiny, cream-colored seed of a certain species of pine tree. Pine nuts , sold shelled, raw or roasted, have a rich buttery flavor and add a nice crunch to many foods, included baked goods, pasta, and salads.
Some simple ways to enjoy pine nuts:
1. Add toasted pine nuts to salads
2.  Sprinkle into soups for added crunch
3.  Include in pancake and waffle batters
4.  Sprinkle on vegetable pizzas
5.  Add to pasta dishes
All of our pumpkin recipes use either solid-pack pumpkin puree or pumpkin pie filling; both of which you will purchase canned.  Just be careful to use the product that is called for in the recipe.
Solid-pack pumpkin, or pumpkin puree, is 100% pure pumpkin with no salt, sugar,  flavorings, or colorings added.  Pumpkin pie mix contains pure pumpkin and a blend of  spices and sugar; it has a more fluid consistency. 
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