Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Best Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie has been a Thanksgiving standard for us since long before the kids were born -- 23+ years ago. The recipe on the can always seemed fine -- pumpkin, eggs, evaporated milk, sugar, and lots of spice. In fact, sans fatty crust, I used to make this as pumpkin pudding when the kids were tots, as a painless way to get an orange vegetable into them.

But Michael, our pumpkin pie connoisseur, deems the recipe from The Best American Recipes 2005-2006 far superior, and Ed, Rhona and I agree.

"Silky Pumpkin Pie" is from a cooking school handout by Pam Anderson (no, not that Pamela Anderson). She calls for a dough with cream cheese, which I didn't use -- I went to a fabulous pie cooking class earlier this fall, and didn't care for the cream cheese pastry. But that's another post. It's the filling that's the bomb -- very light and creamy in texture and in taste, with a light hand on the spices and sugar.

Basically, you warm up the pumpkin in a saucepan with the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg, then whisk in a cup of evap milk and a can of sweetened condensed milk. You temper the eggs and finally whisk in the pumpkin mixture (so you dirty an extra pan). It's then baked at a very low temp (300°), which yields the toothsome texture. My oven is pretty accurate, and I finally boosted the temp and it still took more than an hour to set. But worth the wait. Heavenly pie. [... As I read this, I bet we used the whole can of evap milk, not just a cup, so maybe that's why it took forever to set.?]

Silky Pumpkin Pie


1 15oz can pumpkin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup evaporated milk
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

Preheat oven to 300°. [I pushed it to 325 when the pie was still completely liquid after half an hour. Still took forever. I'm using the higher temp from the beginning next time.] [Update: 12-25-06. Using the higher temp affected the texture. Still delish, but not as velvety smooth, like making a custard without the bain marie. So just admit that the baking will take a lot longer than the 30 mins the book suggests.] Combine pumpkin, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium low heat just to blend flavors, stirred occasionally. Add the condensed and evap milks and whisk to combine. Cook until heated through. Put the eggs and the yolks in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk the pumkin mixture into the eggs, a spoonful at a time at first to warm the eggs without scrambling them. Whisk well.

Pour filling into a partially baked pie shell -- you'll have extra which you can pour into custard cups and bake with the pie. Bake until a thin-bladed knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. [Took well over 70 minutes for me, even at the higher temp]. Custard cups will cook faster.

Cool on a wire rack then refrigerate if not serving immediately. Serve at room temp or chilled, with a dollop of whipped cream.

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