If you know me or this blog, then you know mixed drinks aren’t a big part of my repertoire. But there is nothing I like better than a challenge. And so I created this Acorn Squash Rum Punch.
On discovering that our October Progressive East theme was squash, I would normally have headed to a side dish. Or a spicy squash soup. Maybe a main dish like lasagna with butternut squash. Even a dessert like a butternut squash brulee would have made sense for me. However, I was in the mood to go way outside my comfort zone. The furthest I could get from my norm was a cocktail-type beverage using an acorn squash sitting on my counter. Needless to say, it turned out to be a bit harder than I initially imagined.
From research on alcoholic drinks made with squash, I discovered that most require infusing the alcohol with the squash essence. That process takes at least several days, and most recipes suggest two weeks. I only had a few days to come up with the recipe, photograph and blog about it, so that tack was out of the question.
Then I found this recipe. Although I had issues with its name and the way it was written, it did inspire me by explaining how I could use puree (pumpkin in that recipe) and rum in a cocktail that did not require steeping the rum for days or weeks. I tinkered with the concept and came up with this slightly spicy rum drink. While it bears some resemblance to an apple cider rum punch, it is lighter and the lime in it gives the drink a slightly tart finish.
The ingredients are simple. And while the middle of the recipe takes a bit of time (chilling the liquid, then straining out the squash puree), there is nothing complicated about any of the steps in the recipe.
My beloved liked it cold.
I preferred it warm, the way I like spiked cider.
This recipe makes enough for six tall glass servings or more if you serve it warm and sip it out of smaller cups. Either way, you’ll find it a fun and unusual fall treat.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month features a bunch of recipes for winter squash, and one for a perennial favorite of summer squash that’s good to have in your back pocket all year long. Our host this month is Susan who blogs at The Wimpy Vegetarian.
Comforting Squash Dishes
- Acorn Squash Rum Punch – Mother Would Know
- Cheesy Vegetable Tian – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Instant Pot Spicy Butternut Squash Soup – The Heritage Cook
- Stuffed Delicata Squash from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Butternut Squash, Chickpeas and Olives – From A Chef’s Kitchen
- Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts – Creative Culinary
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious fall dishes!
Acorn Squash Rum Punch
An unusual and light rum punch flavored with acorn squash puree, cinnamon, and lime. Lovely cold or warm. A great addition to any party in the fall or winter.
- 1 acorn squash, split in half lengthwise, seeds and strings removed See note.
- 2 tablespoons flavorless oil (canola, avocado, grapeseed, etc.)
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 lime, zested with a vegetable peeler to make wide strips
- 10 ounces rum - light, dark, or spiced See note
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the squash halves on a parchment-lined roasting pan or cookie sheet. Mix the oil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread the mixture inside the squash halves or paint it on with a pastry brush. Roast the squash for about 45-60 minutes, until a fork easily pierces the "meat."
Once the squash halves have cooled down enough to handle, scoop the "meat" or pulp from the cavity and sides, leaving just the thinnest outside skin. Put the pulp in a food processor or mash it well with a potato masher until it is smooth.
Combine 6 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, and the sugar in a medium-size pot. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat slightly and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then add the acorn squash puree and mix until combined. Add the strips of lime zest and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.
Cool the mixture down until it is no longer steaming, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Then ladle the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or sieve held over a pitcher, leaving the pulp and zest in the top and letting the liquid fall into the pitcher. Discard the solids that remain in the strainer.
Add the rum and serve chilled or rewarm. If you prefer to add the rum to each glass rather than adding it all to the base, use a ratio of 4 parts base to 1 part rum.
The best way to split an acorn squash lengthwise is described well in this post from The Kitchn. Be careful to start at the end opposite the stem and if the knife gets stuck in the squash, rock it gently until it comes out. Do not try to pull it out directly!
If you want to cool the puree down quickly after simmering it for 15 minutes, pour it into a cool bowl or another pot, and put that one into a larger bowl filled with ice. The puree should never touch the ice directly. Over time, the ice will melt into cold water and within 20-30 minutes the puree in the inside bowl or pot will be cooled down. It will cool even more quickly if you stir it to let more heat escape.
For the lightest punch choose white rum. For a spicier version, used spiced rum and for one that is more complex, but does not add spices to the base, choose dark rum.
If you like ice cubes in the chilled version, make some ice cubes out of the acorn squash mixture before you add the rum. That way, you'll have the benefit of the ice cubes without diluting the drink.