I'll admit it: I don't really like carving pumpkins. I always have grand plans, but by the time you head to the patch, select just the right one, gorge on popcorn balls, look for the carving tools, spread the newspaper, and begin the epic cleanout process...I'm kinda over it. But I love pumpkins, so I wanted to find a much easier and practical way to use them in my home this fall. You know, like drinking a tasty fall cocktail out of them :)
These make a great project for kids and adults, depending on your beverage of choice, and you can whip up a full set in no time. Let's get to it!
The most important step here is selecting the right pumpkins. You'll need small ones, of course, but not super tiny, or else there's no space inside to hold the liquid. Look for the largest pumpkins that you could hold in a single hand, and taller, rounder ones will work better than short and squat. Or, hit up the grocery store and look for small pie pumpkins or orange squash.
2. Next, cut the top off the pumpkin. This is a different technique than creating a lid for carving, since you'll want a flat, not angled cut. A long, serrated knife works well here, but you can use the little orange handled thing that comes with the carving kit as well.
Oh - surprise - pumpkins aren't perfectly round, so try to align your knife and cut with the bottom of the pumpkin, not the top or stem, so that the rim will be parallel to the table.
3. Then, use a large spoon to clean out the pumpkin guts and seeds. Use the edge of the spoon to create clean walls, and to enlarge the cavity as needed.
Be sure to save the seeds for roasting!
4. If you'd like, rounding over the inside of the lip can make for an easier drinking experience, especially for little ones with not-so-refined motor skills. It only takes an extra 10 seconds to run the knife around the inner lip, and it helps to create a more finished look.
And... that's it! My pumpkin cups, which were each around 4" in diameter, held about 6-7 ounces of liquid, perfect for a serving of apple cider, some witch's brew, or a fall cocktail.
The pumpkins also make great insulators, and hold hot beverages well, so they're great for hot cocoa, spiced cider, or your favorite DIY pumpkin spice latte recipe or coffee drink. I tested it with full boiling water, and had no trouble holding them with my hands. Be sure to try yours out before, especially if you plan to give these to youngsters.
To take things to the next step, you can take advantage of the pumpkins (obvious) carve-ability, and etch names or initials or other markers into the skin. I just used a pencil to draw the shape, and carved it out with a craft knife. Carving or linoleum cutting tools also work well.
Of course, besides tasty fall beverages, you can serve all kinds of sweet and savory dishes, from ice cream to hot soup, in these as well.
This post originally posted in October 2014. But, we're bringing it back because tasty fall beverages in mini pumpkins are for the ages.