It’s no secret that pumpkin pie and I have had an on again/off again relationship, as mentioned in part here. My adult years have succeeded with a mainly on again status. Pumpkin is a versatile food: its pairing capabilities range from savory to sweet, herbal to spice. From a seasonal standpoint a pumpkin pie carries its fans from harvest to Christmas, with a special place held at the Thanksgiving table. For bakers, the warmly-colored flesh is a jumping off point for a multitude of treats, and an invitation for open-ended creativity.
Followers of this blog know I’ve used pumpkin in big cakes and little cakes. I’ve even shared a recipe for a pumpkin-chocolate cake, and featured the squash in pizza crust too. But I’ve never posted a recipe for pie―until now.
Thanksgiving 2013 was one week and a day ago. I had the best intentions to do up the holiday per our traditions, which often includes a trilogy of pies: pumpkin, apple and pecan. And I had my heart set on a new pumpkin pie recipe to boot. The thing is, however, we had just moved into our new home exactly one week prior. Never mind unpacking and the typical tasks associated with a move-in. This is a new construction, new home; there were curtain rods to install and curtains to hang, ceiling fans with light fixtures, and life-making decisions on where our belongings would live in the abode. It became quickly clear my feast plans needed to be pared down. Somehow I thought it to be more important to cover particular windows than to invariably introduce ourselves to the neighbors in our birthday suits. Nice to meet you…indeed!
The pumpkin pie I had plans for was cut from the list. As a time management strategy, I defaulted to one I could do in my sleep―a classic double-crust apple variety. After the window treatments were up, and a modicum of settling had taken place, my focus was the kitchen. A guy’s got to have his priorities, right?
Our meal was as grand as years past, and the thankful quotient is at an all-time high in our new surroundings, but the facilitator that really made it happen was Mrs. W. It was her idea to make some of the basics to Thanksgiving, but prepare the intended peripheral sides and specialties over subsequent nights as a way to refresh and extend the leftover staples. I married well, no? This license freed me up to get the feast on the table and to pour over that new pumpkin pie recipe in my own good time.
I knew from the moment I saw this pie recipe it would be exceptional. Here, a pumpkin pie is paired with a barely sweetened chocolate crust—a necessary measure to be sure the chocolate flavor would hold its own. The custard is sweetened by pure maple syrup, nicely balanced with familiar pumpkin pie spices, and a good splash of bourbon plays a tasty supporting role. Above all, the shards of caramelized sugar from the brûlée finish elevate the pie to an exquisite dessert.
Adapted from Bon Appetit | November 2013
Looking for more terrific pie tips, pointers and holiday dessert recipe ideas? Please visit my dear friend Pastry Chef Jenni Field’s post on pie.