Pumpkin pie is the quintessential American Thanksgiving dessert–something that, although I liked enough, I never craved or had a real desire to make. Sure my baka made it a few times when I was growing up (the last time of which was probably when i was around 13 and my brother made the mistake of telling her how good it was and thus, it became a weekly–if not more–occurrence til Christmas when, a) i suspect she became sick of making it, and b) the smell of pumpkin and cream cheese began nauseating me!) Since it was something that was always bought (and often not really eaten), it was never something that I considered integrally part of our food culture, if that makes sense. So its actually quite ironic that after hosting a dinner party many years ago (God, am I that old that I can use that phrase?!?!?!), my pumpkin pie became the one dish evoked when a friend would reminisce about how good my cooking was.
I wouldn’t say its my signature dish–its a pretty standard recipe–but, its nonetheless pretty good. One of the reasons for which is because I never use pumpkin from the can–and neither should you! It’s really very easy to roast and puree it yourself (here’s my super simple recipe.) There’s just no comparison, plus pumpkin puree is easily freezable, so you don’t have to overdose on pumpkin all at once. You can use it for all kinds of future uses like pumpkin soup or maybe one of these 17 recipes from chowhound. I must confess that sometimes I just can’t make everything homemade, so if you don’t feel like making the graham crackers yourself (though Martha Stewart has a good recipe on her website), if you won’t tell, I won’t either.
Twist: A great alternative for the graham crackers are speculoos biscuits–something I learned living here in Belgium, where graham crackers are non-existent and speculoos is king (In this case you don’t need to add the additional cinnamon.) Adding a bit of cardamom and white pepper to the pumpkin batter is great too since–combined with the rest of the spices– that essentially is speculoos.
- about 2 cups of finely ground graham crackers (you can do this easily in a food processor)
- 8 tablespoons of butter, melted
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- few shakes of cinnamon
- 1/3 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups of pureed pumpkin
- 1-397 gram can of condensed milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
First, prepare the crust by combining the first 5 ingredients in a food processor. The “dough” should be the consistency of wet sand (gross analogy–sorry!), so add more ground graham crackers, if needed. Pack it down into a silicon cupcake pan or springform cake pan (or whatever you are using–I prefer to make individual serving or smaller pies, but you can do it in a regular size pie pan, as well), making sure to build the sides up like a little fortress to hold in the filling. Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until browned (this will depend on the size pan you use–if a regular pie pan, it could take up to 12 minutes.)
After the crust is done, increase the oven temperature to 220 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients to make the filling either with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk. Pour onto the crusts and bake for 20-25 minutes (about 40-45 minutes for a regular pie pan) or until it no longer jiggles when slightly shaken and is no longer sticky on top. Check it regularly as you may need to cover it with foil if you notice it browning too quickly.
Cool and then pop them out by pushing from the bottom of the silicon or release the latch on the springform.