Caramel Apple Bread Pudding in Pumpkin

5” – 6” diameter pumpkin or round squash
6 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup sour cream
6 large croissants
4 T. butter
1 large or 2 medium apples (Granny Smith, Pippin, Honeycrisp), cored and thinly sliced
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup raisins or craisins
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. salt
1 cup bottled caramel sauce
½ cup whipping cream
vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (optional)

Cut the top off the pumpkin, leaving the base and clean out the seeds. Place ¼ cup water in the pumpkin, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes. Remove water and pat dry.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, half and half, and sour cream until smooth. Break the croissants into 1” pieces; add to egg mixture.

In a medium skillet, heat the butter and sauté the apple slices for 2-3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, apricots, raisins, nuts, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Saute another 2-3 minutes until sugar is melted. Cool slightly and then add to egg mixture. Stir well. (This can be done hours ahead, or even the night before, then refrigerate). Pour half the mixture into the pumpkin, and place the remaining half in a buttered baking dish. Wrap the pumpkin loosely in foil and place on baking sheet. Place a sheet of foil over the baking dish of pudding and bake on middle shelf of 375o oven for 1 hour; remove foil from both the pumpkin and the baking dish and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes before slicing.
Heat the caramel sauce and cream in a small saucepan. Cut the pumpkin into 6 wedges, lay on its side, top with some of caramel sauce and serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Use the extra bread pudding for another night or for guests who don’t like pumpkin or squash, OR use it as a filling for a second pumpkin.