Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Pie Adventures 2

This post is going to be a bit light on the pictures - I decided not to put the whipped cream on the pie until just before serving, so it is still unfinished. But here's the post about it, at least, for your holiday enjoyment!

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The other pie I made for this Thanksgiving is a pumpkin cream pie. Like I said in a previous post, I've been baking pumpkin pies for my family's Thanksgiving since middle school. What I didn't say is that my grandmother usually bakes one too. I like my pies better - she's a bit too light on the spices for my taste (though she makes a mean crust! - until recently, I'd always used the frozen ones). So since Grandma is making a normal pumpkin pie anyway, I thought I'd try out a recipe for pumpkin cream pie. I think the lightness of the cream will be a good counterpoint to the over-eating at dinner.

The recipe is pretty simple and the elements I tried were pretty tasty. I was a bit skeptical about the cream. It does call for 1/4 c cornstarch. That's a cup - not a tablespoon or teaspoon. I don't think I've ever encountered a recipe that called for more than a tablespoon of cornstarch! I definitely see the benefit, though - when I started cooking it on the stovetop, it went from a liquid to a solid in just a few whisks. It was like watching instant pudding set as you frantically try to ladle it out in equal measures. It took a thin, milky mixture and converted it into a thick cream. It still needs to set in the refrigerator for several hours, but you get a clear sense of the final product at that point. It was tasty, too. I look forward to tasting the pie in its entirety at Thanksgiving dinner!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Pumpkin Cream Pie
From Martha Stewart Living, November 2010.

Gingersnap crust:
1 1/4 c ground gingersnap cookies (~25 cookies)
2 tbsp sugar
pinch salt
4 tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled

Pumpkin Cream filling:
2 c whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch cloves
1/2 c sugar
pinch salt
4 egg yolks
1/4 c cornstarch
1 1/4 c pumpkin puree (or one 15 oz can)
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c heavy cream (to whip for topping the pie)
pinch nutmeg (for garnish)

Make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine gingersnaps, sugar and pinch of salt in a bowl (I found that the gingersnaps didn't grind as finely as graham crackers might, but were still small enough for a proper crust). Stir in melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie plate. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Bake until the crust is golden brown - about 15 minutes (I don't know about golden brown - gingersnaps are dark brown already. It's pretty hard to tell). Set aside to cool.

Make the filling:
Add the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, 1/4 c sugar, and salt to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and 1/4 c sugar in a medium bowl. Once it has simmered, gradually mix 1/2 c of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, then gradually whisk in the remaining milk mixture. Return the whole mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly (this is where, after a minute or so, it suddenly converted from a liquid to a semi-solid). Remove from heat. Immediately whisk in pumpkin, then butter.

Strain the filling through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. (I could not do this - I poured it all into my mesh strainer and nothing happened. Not sure what kind of strainer the recipe means - it does say "fine," which is what mine is.) Pour filling into gingersnap crust, smoothing with a spatula. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkling of nutmeg.

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