Today’s post on Pumpkin Pie begins a series of some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Next week I will share my recipe for an incredibly moist and tender Braised Turkey with Herbs and Vegetables. Week three will feature a somewhat traditionalFresh Herb, Bread and Wild Mushroom Stuffing. And Thanksgiving week will have recipes for Triple-Delish Cranberry Sauce, Roasted Sweet Potato Puree with Fresh Lime or Orange Juice, Watercress, Belgian Endive & Pear Salad with Goat Cheese, Shallot-Mustard Vinaigrette & Maple-Glazed Walnuts.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Everything about Thanksgiving from the story behind the celebration to people coming together in gratitude around food, friendship and family—and afterward feeling nurtured and fulfilled for another year.
Mmm mmm . . . Pumpkin Pie
Smooth, glossy and gently sweetened…a rich custard-like texture surrounded by a crisp, buttery crust…an aroma of cinnamon and spice—all the elements for a perfectly delicious pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie—perhaps you can tell—such a delicious finish to the Thanksgiving Day feast.
In a couple of days I will add a separate post just for A Whole-wheat Crust. I also refer you to my book Fruit-Sweet & Sugar-Free for a thorough discussion of every step in making a pie crust along with an excellent recipe.
Whether you bake this pie or a favorite recipe of your own, be sure you use fresh spices—I am always amazed at how much vitality spices lose within a year. As taste is so closely intertwined with our sense of smell, here is a trick I use for getting the spicing to my liking:
Measure the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg into a small bowl. Close your eyes and smell. Does it smell like the pumpkin pie of your dreams? If not, just add a bit more of the too mild spices to balance too strong spices or add more of a spice that you want to stand out. Continue adding, mixing and smelling till you have the smell/taste you want. Use this mixture to measure out the total amount of spice called for in your recipe, i.e., 1 ¾ teaspoons is the total amount of the spices in my recipe below.
Notes on Ingredients
- Although I rarely use dairy products, for pumpkin pie I prefer organic whole milk in the pie and real whipped cream on top. This is a celebratory pie, I eat it perhaps twice a year, and for me, this is how it tastes best. You can easily substitute a non-dairy alternative and forego the whipped cream.
- I use Libby’s canned pumpkin for its taste, texture, nutrition and convenience. You may prefer to replace it with the freshly steamed, pureed and well-drained flesh of a pie pumpkin.
- Maple syrup is my preferred sweetener for both the pie and the whipped cream (no need to explain why once you taste it). Choose grade B maple syrup—it is darker in color and stronger in maple flavor.
Yield: one 9-inch deep-dish pie
1 unbaked, 9 x 1½-inch pie crust
1 2/3 cup canned pumpkin, unsweetened & unsalted
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups milk
For the Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
1½ tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the unbaked crust with a crumpled piece of baking parchment and fill with uncooked beans or rice. Place the crust on a cookie sheet and bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and the beans or rice (save them to use over and over again).
In a medium-size bowl, use a wire whisk to combine the pumpkin, salt, spices and vanilla. Whisk in the sweetener and the eggs. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the milk. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust.
Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake it on the oven’s lowest shelf. Bake for about 60-75 minutes (or longer) until the filling puffs up, and the center of the pie no longer moves separately when you gently shake the pan.
Let the pie cool before serving.
To whip the cream, place it in a medium mixing bowl along with the maple syrup and vanilla. Begin whisking it slowly to avoid splattering. Once the cream begins to thicken increase the speed and whip to the desired consistency. Either spoon cream onto individual slices of pie, or pipe the cream through a pastry bag.
Pumpkin Custard—A Gluten-Free Alternative
Instead of a crust, pour the filling into ramekins (miniature soufflé dishes) and put into a deep baking pan. Add hot water to come half way up the ramekins and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about an hour until the custard is set. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool before serving with or without whipped cream.