Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kiss my Butternut Squash Kisiel!

I didn't think that my first recipe post would be a Polish dessert, since I have much more of a savory tooth than I do a sweet tooth. But necessity and curiosity often lead to inspiration. And, that is the case here, not having much else in the fridge but a butternut squash combined with a desire to get started on my food blog has led me to my first plant-based Polish recipe post.  So, kisiel it will be!

Kisiel (pronounced key shell) is an unpretentious and satisfying dessert that can be made using a variety of fruits (my favorite kisiels are the berry kind ... they are berry berry good); and according to Kuchnia Polska, kisiels can even be made with coffee, chocolate, or nuts. I think of kisiel as a cross between a pudding and Jello; it is thickened using a starch such as potato starch or corn starch. I suspect arrowroot would work too, but I have yet to try it. These days one can buy instant kisiel packets, but we will not be having any of that here.

Flipping through Kuchnia Polska, I came across recipe 1085 Kisiel z dyni (pumpkin kisiel), which became my inspiration for Butternut Squash Kisiel. (In case you are wondering, there are 1531 recipes in Kuchnia Polska! This book is 799 pages thick and that's not counting the unnumbered pages with the awesome communist era 1970s photographs.  I told you, this is one serious cookbook!)

Butternut Squash Kisiel
(Makes about 4 10-12oz. servings or 8 5-6oz. servings)

  • 1 small-medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups of (ginger infused) water for cooking/steaming butternut squash
  • 1 cup water for kisiel (I used the reserved cooking water from the butternut squash)
  • 1/2 cup cold soy milk (or any other non-dairy milk you prefer)
  • 4 Tbsp. of cornstarch (you can also use potato starch or arrowroot powder)
  • 7 oz. of date puree/syrup* (or to your liking)
  • 2 Tbsp of agave syrup (or to your liking)
  • 2 1/2 Tsp of vanilla flavoring (if you've got the real stuff, use that)
  • 1/2 lemon's juice
  • 4-5 cloves (optional)
  • Dash of salt


Add butternut squash chunks to a large saucepan with 2 cups of the ginger infused water and 4-5 cloves. I used fresh ginger infused water (just boil and steep water with slices and chunks of raw ginger) and cloves to boost the antioxidant content of the dish; however, these steps are optional, you can use plain water and omit the cloves, if you like.

Cook/steam the butternut squash until it is soft. Poke it with a fork to determine when it is done.  I'm not sure because I forgot to record it, but I think it took about 10 minutes or so. When done, remove the cloves (if you are using them). Drain the butternut squash reserving 1 cup of the water for the remainder of the recipe (think of all those nutrients floating around in that water). Or, if you do not reserve the fluid, be sure to have a cup of water handy.

Puree the butternut squash making sure it is uniform in consistency. You don't want any lumps or chunks in the kisiel. I used a hand-held blender, but a regular blender, food processor, or even a potato masher will do.

Add the date puree/syrup*, agave syrup (I added this because I thought the kisiel needed to be a bit sweeter), vanilla, and lemon juice to the puree and blend well. 

Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1/2 cup of cold soy milk.

In another medium saucepan, bring the 1 cup of reserved butternut squash (or plain) water to a boil, and then remove from heat.  Stir in the cornstarch and soy milk mixture into the heated reserved water, return to the heat, and  bring it back to a boil all the while whisking constantly.  Add, the butternut squash puree mixture and whisk it well. You can stop whisking when you see the mixture start to glisten a bit.

Pre-moisten your dessert bowls with cold water (this will allow the kisiel to slide out later should you want to turn it out --like a Jello mold-- rather than eat it directly from the bowl), and pour the mixture, dividing it equally, into your serving bowls. Chill for at least 3 hours, or if you prefer, you can eat it warm.

Kuchnia Polska recommends serving the kisiel with a raspberry or black currant syrup, which does sound rather nice and would add a little extra color to the kisiel.  I did not have either and was fine eating it without a fruity syrup.  I did find that the kisiel tasted better on the next day after the flavors had a chance to merge.

Butternut Squash Kisiel

*NOTE: I use date syrup as a sweetener most of the time in my smoothies, oatmeal, desserts, etc. because they are really good for you and because they are one of the healthiest sweetener options around. I make my own date syrup by soaking dates overnight, pitting them, and then pureeing them with the soaking water into a smooth (and yummy paste). You can keep this syrup in the fridge, or freeze it (like I do) in an ice cube tray.



  1. I want every recipe to include a story about either your favorite/most interesting experience eating a version of the dish you're posting OR just a little story about your day!

    Can't wait to read more!!

  2. Sure, I will try to include a little "context and backstory" with every recipe post. ;-)