I love pumpkin pie. I love the simplicity. I love the warm and inviting color. I love that it embodies seasonal flavors in a not-too-sweet package. But why do so many recipes get it wrong?
If you follow the label directions of the famous pumpkin puree brand, you will get a decent pie, and if passable is what you're shooting for then you are probably pretty happy with it, however, it lacks character (seasoning), and the unctuousness that makes you close your eyes and savor it.
After a few years of piddling around with my recipe, I decided to scrap it and completely deviate from my original (which was based on that famous pumpkin puree brand).
After a bit of searching and pondering (because pondering pie is a wonderful way to spend a day!), I crafted this recipe, created from the Pumpkin Pie recipe of Food Network's Paula Deen. Now Mrs. Paula's pie is pretty good, but I am not a fan of pretty good. If I am going to consume a high-calorie dessert, it better be darn great! Blog-worthy, even!
What really makes this pumpkin pie such a standout is the creamy thickness that the cream cheese lends. It also cuts the sweetness without cutting the amount of sugar (which is necessary for the color and texture). You get a nice, thick pie deserving of that gorgeous dessert plate!
This pie also perfectly straddles the fence between dessert and side-dish. I abso-freaking-lutely detest super sweet desserts and this is NOT one of them... I specifically shot for a recipe that makes you feel like you are cuddling next to a fireplace with a cuppa coffee. In fact, that would be the perfect accompaniment!
- 8oz. Cream Cheese, softened for an hour (Philadelphia)
- 2C Pumpkin puree (Libby's)
- 1C Granulated sugar (Domino)
- 1/4 t Table Salt (Morton's Iodized)
- 1 Lg egg, 2 yolks (Pete & Gerry's)
- 1 C Half & Half (Market Pantry)
- 1/4 C Butter, unsalted, melted (Trader Joe's)
- 1 t Pure vanilla bean paste (Nielsen-Massey) *Read note about the paste*
- 1 t Saigon Cinnamon, ground (The Fresh Market)
- 1/4 t Ginger, ground (Trader Joe's)
- 1/2 t Allspice (freshly ground from berries)
- 1/4 t Cloves, ground (Trader Joe's)
- 1/4 t Nutmeg, freshly shaved (Trader Joe's)
- Pie dough
- Set out cream cheese and butter to soften for an hour.
- Prepare pie dough if necessary (if you are being lazy like me, just use Pillsbury Pie Crust and take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before prep-time so it can be successfully rolled into the pie dish.
- Preheat the oven to 350° after the cream cheese has gotten really soft and you are ready to start making the pie.
- Roll dough into a 9" pie dish and press firmly into the sides and bottom of the dish. Cut off excess (save them for a mini-pie!) and crimp the edges. To make the design in the pie pictured, I placed one index finger flat against the inside rim and rolled the adjacent section down, alternating all the way around.
- Place the pie crust in the freezer. Take a 10 minute break. I usually take this time to tidy up where I've been working and get everything prepped for mixing.
- Pre-bake the crust- Place aluminum foil into the crust and fill with blind baking beans. Bake in pre-heated 350°oven for 10 minutes, remove the foil and beans, bake for about 10 minutes more. It should look toasty and dry.
- Make the filling in a large mixing bowl while the crust is pre-baking.
- Beat the softened cream cheese with a hand mixer until it's whippy.
- Add spices (they will help color the cream cheese)
- Add pumpkin and beat on medium to combine.
- Add sugar & salt and beat on medium to combine.
- In a small bowl, combine eggs, half & half, and melted butter. (Do not add hot melted butter!)
- Add liquid mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat on low to combine.
- Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350° 60-90 minutes until the center is set.
- Cool on a wire rack to room temperature (about an hour) and then refrigerate.
Okay, so about that vanilla paste: Hubby made a whoopsie at the store when he picked it up for me on his way home from work one day. I didn't even know this product existed. It looks JUST like the regular vanilla extract by that brand, but it has a wider mouth on the bottle. I opened it to discover it was a thick liquid! I read the bottle to find out that it measures the same so I used it and I'm officially a convert! The only time I'll use the liquid again is in frostings and drinks and such.. This thicker stuff was perfect in my batter and it was easy to dip my measuring spoon in.
I do occasionally like to use molasses, brown sugar, or maple syrup to sweeten my autumn pies, and I haven't experimented with this pie yet. I think sweetening and flavoring whipping cream with one of those to garnish would be lovely.
I include the brand names and links to specific products I've used mostly for my personal use in case I decide to tweak a recipe later or something doesn't come out quite right. I am not sponsored by any of the brands used in this recipe.
There will be a bit of crust and batter left over, so stuff a ramekin and bake it off at the same time. You know, for SCIENCE!
The pic was a quickie I took to share with my mom via iPhone, so it's not really great, but that pie was cut up and devoured before I even thought about blogging it :D
Oh well, I'll have to make another one to get a better pic, right?!
What are your favorite pumpkin pie ingredients? What do you like to pair with it or garnish it with?