Not your mom's pumpkin pie

Saturday, December 6, 2008

So a few years ago I stumbled upon (like while reading a cookbook, not in the literal or new-fangled internet way) a recipe for an amazing pumpkin pie.  I will be the first to say that I do not care for standard pumpkin pie.  I think it's a combination of the texture and the boringness, but I just don't really like them.  Much to my husband's dismay, I should add, because it's his favorite thing in the universe and I never make it.  And yes, I'm totally saying he loves pumpkin pie more than me.  Pumpkin pie, Sara Rolls (from Kyoto) and Alligator Cheesecake from Jacques-Imos.  But still, 4th isn't bad.

But I digress.  Basically I found a different pumpkin pie recipe and it totally knocked my socks off.  

I know some of you are purists and like your boring traditional pumpkin pie, and I understand, because trust me, I'm usually a traditionalist too.  But this year I asked my husband if I could make MY pumpkin pie recipe and he (begrudgingly) said yes.  And he LOVED it.

The Ingredients:
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Pumpkin puree (NOT pumkin pie mix!)
Sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporate milk!)
2 eggs
Pumpkin pie spice (or, if you're not lazy, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves)
9" deep dish unbaked pie crust (you can make your own, but seriously, it's not worth the effort.)
Brown sugar
Chopped walnuts (I like mine candied, but they're totally omittable)

Let's get baking.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Do it now, otherwise you'll forget and be annoyed with how long it takes to heat up when you've assembled your pie and are ready to bake it.  Not that I've done that before.

This first part is totally optional, especially if you don't like walnuts (you can substitute pecans too).  Or even if you do like walnuts, but don't want to "candy" them.  I'm just kind of a baking over-achiever.  Except with pie crusts.  

I'm not going to go through the whole process of candying because it's difficult to explain because I don't measure anything but here's the Cliff's Notes version.  

Combine nuts, brown sugar and a little water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring the whole time (otherwise you'll burn the ever living crap out of your walnuts), until they look something like this:
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Do not, I repeat, do NOT pour these out onto aluminum foil or wax paper to cool.  Because when they cool, they become completely and totally attached to the foil/paper and then you might have to spend 30 minutes peeling tiny pieces of foil/wax paper off the bottoms of them.  Again, not that I've done that before.  Set these aside.

Now to really begin with the pie:

Separate your eggs.  
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Then add the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk (so so gross), pumpkin pie spice and salt to the egg yolks.  If you only have one machine operated mixer, you should do this part by hand and save the mixer for later.  Just trust me.  
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Mix.  If you're using an electric mixer, start on low, otherwise you'll be wearing the spices and probably the milk too.  No that I've done that either.  
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Now, put the egg whites in a clean bowl with a mixer.  You really really really will want to use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment for this.  (It's possible to do without one, but you'll need some crazy strong arms.)  Turn the mixer on medium and let it go.  These are my whites after 1.5 minutes of medium speed mixing.  Not fluffy enough.
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We want soft peaks, which means that when you pull the mixer attachment out, a small peak will appear in the eggs and then fall after a second.  You want them fluffy, but not stiffly mixed.  There's a fine line.  After about 3 minutes of mixing (though it depends greatly upon your mixer and climate), I had soft peaks.
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Pour the egg whites into the pumpkin mix.
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Do NOT mix these together.  FOLD.  You've just created light fluffy bubbliness and if you mix, you'll kill the bubbles.  Don't kill the bubbles.  Just don't do it.  Fold the eggs in and you'll save the bubbly goodness.
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It takes a little extra time to fold instead of mix, but when you've finished you'll have a light, bubbly, pale-orange pumpkin pie filling.
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Pour this into your pie shell (it will be very full, this is a deep dish crust) and pop it into the 425 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Note: if you are using a store-made crust in a non-glass pan, it will be VERY heavy and very full.  Carry it with one hand under the bottom.  Otherwise your pie might fold in half and pour all over the floor.  Not that I've done that.
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While the pie is baking, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  I didn't measure the cinnamon, but don't overdo it.  Remember, you've got some in the pie and in the walnuts (which we are going to use, hold your horses).
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Cut in the butter (you could probably do this with a mixer, but even I don't have 3 mixers, nor the energy to wash bowls that often throughout the baking process).  I use a fork, but pastry cutters, two forks or your hands are suitable alternatives.  You want to achieve the feat of "coarse crumbs" which looks something like this
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When the 15 minute timer dings for the filling, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and carefully take the pie out of the oven.  Sprinkle streusel over the top of the pumpkin, pressing it in lightly if necessary.  I had more than enough streusel and probably could've used less, but seriously, where's the fun in that?
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Before putting the pie back in the oven, you'll want to create some sort of pie crust shield because the crust browns too quickly.  I've found that foil works the best, but since my inconsiderate housemates used the rest of our foil and did not bother to replace it, all I had was parchment paper.  I folded it in half and then in half again and tore a(n ironically) pie slice shaped piece out.  When you open the folds, you have a piece of parchment with a hole in the center.  You could also use scissors or the fancy pie crust covers.

Here's my pie, covered with parchment paper, which, in case you wonder is an EPIC FAILURE at protecting the crusts.  Use foil people, use foil.
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Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, pull the pie out and sprinkle walnuts on top.  Do not be persuaded by the upcoming picture.  DO NOT DO THIS WHILE THE PIE IS ON THE OVEN RACK.  If you do, you will surely miss and end up with walnuts on your oven floor, and then, instead of pumpkin cinnamon goodness, your kitchen will smell like burning walnuts.  Very festive, trust me.
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I put my crust shield back on since my crust was already very brown and I wanted to stop that process.  Again, do not put nuts on while in the oven.

Put back in the oven for 10 more minutes (still at 350).  After those 10 minutes, if the filling appears set (it doesn't jiggle when you move it), remove from the oven and let cool.  If, like mine, yours is not set after those 10 minutes, bake it a little while longer.  When in doubt, throw it in for a few more minutes.  You're not going to overbake the pie (the crust possibly, the pie no).

(Yes, I did totally forget to take a picture of the finished pie.  I'm a moron.  I'm aware.)

When finished, cool to room temp and then refrigerate if not serving immediately.  Enjoy!

(Full recipe)

For walnuts (optional!):
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
brown sugar

For pie filling:
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, separated
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 9" deep dish pie crust, unbaked

For streusel:
5 tbsp flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
cinnamon to taste
4 tbsp butter, chilled-ish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For nuts:
Put nuts in saute pan, cover with a layer of brown sugar and add water to desired consistency.  Saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, set aside to cool.

For pie:
In one bowl (if you only have one mixer, this should be the non-mixer bowl), combine pumpkin, milk, eggs yolks, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Mix until well combined.

In a different bowl (electric mixer bowl, if you have one, by hand with a whisk will work too), whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.

Fold whites into the pumpkin mixture.  Pour filling into the pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.  

For Streusel:
While the pie is baking, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter to resemble coarse crumbs.  

After the pie has baked for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven.  Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cover the top of the pie with streusel.  Cover the edges of the pie so the crust doesn't burn.  Put it back in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the pie from the oven, sprinkle the walnuts on top, and bake 10 more minutes, or until filling is set (does not jiggle).

Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!


Becs said...

Dang, girl, that sounds delish!

Anonymous said...

Yet again, I am in agreement with you. I am OBSESSED with all things pumpkin but HATE the consistency (or is it boring??) of pumpkin pie. But holy shit, adding some streusel action to it totally takes it up a notch. I think I am going to have to try this!


Lipstick Jungle said...

WOW! And thanks for the "Not that it happened to me tips", because seriously, I would have done them all!