Published November 1, 2008.
The best thing about pumpkin pie is that you only have to eat it once a year. If any Thanksgiving tradition deserves a fresh approach, it’s this one.
Too often, pumpkin pie appears at the end of a Thanksgiving meal as a grainy, overspiced, canned-pumpkin custard encased in a soggy crust.
We wanted to create a pumpkin pie recipe destined to be a new classic: velvety smooth, packed with pumpkin flavor, and redolent of just enough fragrant spices.
Canned pumpkin contains moisture, which dilutes a pie’s flavor. To maximize flavor, it made sense to concentrate this liquid rather than remove it. Taking a cue from a previous pie recipe, in which we cooked canned pumpkin, we emptied a can into a saucepan along with sugar and spices, then whisked in dairy and eggs. This improved flavor and the hot filling let the custard firm up quickly in the oven, preventing it from soaking into the crust. For spices, we chose nutmeg, cinnamon, and surprisingly, freshly grated ginger. Sugar and maple syrup sweetened things, but tasters still craved a more complex pie. On a whim, we mashed roasted sweet potatoes into our pumpkin. Tasters recognized a deeper flavor, but we wanted to streamline this method with canned sweet potatoes. We drained canned sweet potatoes and cooked them with the canned pumpkin. Tasters again loved the pie and never guessed the true flavor source. We then tackled texture. To eliminate graininess, we found that equal amounts of milk and cream provided balance while three eggs and two yolks firmed up the custard. We whisked these into the cooked pumpkin-sweet potato mixture and strained it for a smooth texture. Finally, to keep the custard from curdling, we started the pie at a high temperature for 15 minutes followed by a reduced temperature for the remainder of the baking time. This cut baking time to less than one hour and the dual temperatures produced a creamy pie fully and evenly cooked from edge to center.list of recipes