Buttercup Squash Custard Recipe: How to Make Sankhya Lapov

buttercup squash custard

This buttercup squash custard (known as “sankhya lapov”) is a popular dessert in Cambodia and Thailand. There, its creamy coconut custard is a cherished delicacy at large family gatherings and celebrations. For us, buttercup squash custard is a new recipe — we’ve only developed it recently to satisfy a craving for Cambodian desserts (and because cooking this custard is actually a lot of fun).

Traditionally, this squash custard is prepared using kabocha squashes (also known as Japanese pumpkins). However, most winter squashes will make a fine substitute, as all boast a rich, sweet flesh. Butternut squash is perhaps the only winter squash that’s unsuitable for this dessert, only because its shape is not an ideal vessel for the custard mixture.

Most other ingredients should be simple enough to source. You may have trouble finding fresh pandan leaves or pandan extract (we’ve provided an Amazon link below to the one we’ve used). However, you may use vanilla extract instead of pandan and still end up with a delectable, luxurious custard.

buttercup squash custard

Buttercup Squash Custard Recipe

Thida Koeut
This unique custard recipe is fun to cook and makes a finger-licking dessert for any occasion!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cambodian, Southeast Asian
Servings 4
Calories 443 kcal


  • Large mixing bowl


  • 1 Buttercup squash large
  • ¾ cup Coconut milk
  • ¾ cup Brown sugar palm sugar or maple syrup as an alternative
  • 1 tspn Pandan leaf powder use vanilla extract as an alternative
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 6 large eggs


  • Cut the top of the squash out and remove the seeds.
  • Rinse the inside of the squash and leave it to dry upside down.
    Rinse the buttercup squash
  • Break the eggs and whisk the egg yolks and whites together in a large bowl.
    Whisk the eggs for the custard mixture
  • Add brown sugar, salt, and pandan powder to the egg mixture and whisk everything together.
    Add pandan powder to the custard mix
  • Add coconut milk to the egg mixture and whisk everything together until achieving a uniform consistency.
  • Drain the custard mixture through a sieve.
    drain the custard mix through a sieve
  • Pour the custard mixture inside the squash.
    pour the custard mixture into the squash
  • Place the squash onto the rack of a steamer pot with water with the stove set to high heat and cover with a lid. Reduce to medium heat once the water boils.
    place the squash on a steamer rack
  • Steam the squash for at least 40 minutes, or until the top of the custard mixture solidifies, and use a sharp knife to see if the pumpkin is cooked.
    steam squash until the custard mixture is firm
  • Remove the steamed pumpkin from the steamer and let it cool.
    buttercup squash custard served


Calories: 443kcalCarbohydrates: 51.25gProtein: 11.87gFat: 22.38gSaturated Fat: 14.35gCholesterol: 279mgSodium: 700mgPotassium: 387.75mgFiber: 2.8gSugar: 44.65gCalcium: 82.5mgIron: 2.5mg
Keyword buttercup squash custard, japanese pumpking custard, kabocha custard, pumpkin custard
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What are the three types of custard?

The three types of custard are baked custard, stirred custard, and steamed custard. Here’s a brief summary of each custard type:

  • Steamed custard: The custard mixture becomes firm during the steaming process, much like it does in the buttercup squash custard we’ve shared in our recipe. Steamed custard originates in Asia, and is a popular dessert in Cambodia, Japan, China, and Thailand.
  • Baked custard: The egg-based custard mixture coagulates because of the heat produced by the oven. Baked custard is primarily found in pastries, and its roots go back to medieval Europe.
  • Stirred custard: Stirred custards have the consistency of heavy cream at room temperature, and can comprise a dessert of their own or serve as a pastry filling.

What is the most important ingredient in custard?

Eggs are the most important ingredient in custard because they are the thickening component. Eggs (both whites and yolks) coagulate when cooked, and this process gives custard its firm, gel-like texture. The more eggs you add to the mix, the less cooking time you’ll need to achieve a firm consistency for the custard. And vice versa — adding fewer eggs to the custard mix leads to longer cooking times to achieve coagulation and make the custard firm.

What happens if you put whole eggs in custard?

If you put whole eggs in custard, you’ll end up with a custard that has the benefits of both the yolks and whites. The yolks give the custard a lush, soft texture while the whites make the custard sturdy and gelatinous. You can add more yolks for a creamier, richer custard. Alternatively, you can add more egg whites if you prefer the custard to be firm and jello-like.

Also try: Rice flour gluten-free pancakes

Do you eat the skin of buttercup squash?

Yes, you can eat the skin of buttercup squash, but you probably don’t want to. Buttercup squash skin is edible, so eating it will not harm you in any way. However, buttercup squash rinds are quite firm, even after cooking. If you follow our buttercup squash custard recipe above, you’ll find that the pumpkin’s skin softens after steaming (in fact, you must be careful not to break it after steaming). But the skin remains quite fibrous despite the softness, and this tough texture does not mix well with the creamy flesh and the luxurious custard underneath. So, we suggest you discard the skin of a cooked buttercup squash (or any other winter squash) before eating the fruit.

Also try: Butternut squash stir fry with ground pork

Buttercup Squash Custard: Final Words

We hope you’ll enjoy making this fun buttercup squash custard recipe! Have you made this recipe already? Or do you know another custard recipe you’d like to share? If so, please share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below! 

Thida Koeut

Thida Koeut, born near Kampot, Cambodia, is the chef and author behind Thida's Kitchen. Immersed in Cambodian gastronomy from childhood, she later managed a renowned Danish-French fusion restaurant in Kampot, mastering European culinary techniques. Her hands-on farming experience deepened her connection to authentic Cambodian ingredients. Now based in New Westminster, British Columbia, Thida seamlessly blends her rich heritage with global flavors, presenting them to the world through her online publication.

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