Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is one of the healthier desserts, since it consists of mostly squash (you can substitute butternut squash, by the way, in almost every recipe calling for pumpkin puree).

Bake the pumpkin ahead of time. Simply cut a small pumpkin in half, place it face down on a cookie sheet, and bake it at 350F, for an hour and 15 minutes, to an hour and a half. Once it has cooled a bit, the peel comes off easily (just scoop it out). Then puree it in the food processor or food mill (you could also use a potato masher or a fork).

I sometimes make the crust the night before, stick it in the fridge, and make the pie in the morning, but either way, you will want to chill the dough for 30 minutes before.
Use the Flaky Pie Crust recipe for the pumpkin pie crust. For this recipe, and other moist, custard-type pies, you can pre-bake the crust to keep it from getting soggy but it is not necessary for this particular filling.

CLASSIC PUMPKIN PIE FILLING  Adapted from Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

2 large eggs
1 ¾ cup fresh pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves (optional)
1 12-ounce can (1 ½ cup) evaporated milk
1 par-baked flaky piecrust

Position your oven racks so that one is in the center, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the eggs in a big bowl to break up the yolks. Whisk in the pumpkin, molasses and fresh ginger.  In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk the sugars and spices together. Add this to the pumpkin mixture, and whisk some more.  Gradually add the evaporated milk, stirring until the filling is smooth and the milk is fully incorporated into the pumpkin. Pour the pumpkin filling into the par-baked pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is firm to the touch and doesn’t jiggle when you shake the pan. Don’t worry if the top cracks slightly, that happens.  Cool on a wire rack before cutting into it.
Pastry Cookies on Top
If you like, you can make some decorations with pie dough scraps, bake them, and arrange them on top.  Here’s how: Roll out some dough scraps. Use a leaf-shaped cookie cutter (or whatever shape you like) to cut out some shapes. Brush the pastry with some cream, or milk. Sprinkle with sugar, place them on a baking sheet and bake until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Just before serving the pie, arrange these “cookies” on top. 

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