Making your own pie crust really isn’t hard or scary, so why do people insist on buying pre-made crust? Everyone stop doing that. Pumpkin puree from scratch is a whole different story. Example: the Pumpkin Experiment of Thanksgiving 2011 during which I purchased a Japanese pumpkin (Kabocha) in order to create a pie from super-scratch. I probably should have picked the pumpkin from the outdoors instead of Whole Foods if this were actually to have been a true attempt at farm-to-table but I’m only medium crunchy. The Kabocha filling was flavorful, smooth, and fall-like. Unfortunately the entire process took a long time, my blender was too small to puree the pumpkin all at once, and I’m not convinced the taste was significantly more delicious than canned pumpkin. A year after The Experiment, NPR ran a story about the glories of Kabocha. I would recommend skipping the hipsterly trend. Save some time and use the can.
The recipe below isn’t just a pumpkin pie. A few reasons for this:
1) The filling includes a cream cheese swirl. It is really fun to make, looks beautiful, and tastes excellent.
2) The crust is made from cookies.
I think I had more items to add to this list but those are really key. I’ll leave you with those two delicious thoughts.
This recipe is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
Deb, the genius behind Smitten Kitchen, is my baking hero. That being said, I have a few suggestions. Warm your cream cheese batter on the stove before swirling it into the pumpkin. If the cream cheese batter isn’t warm and smooth you end up with unattractive white blobs in the pumpkin batter. Also I cut back on the spices to appease some family members who are anti-nutmeg.
4 ounces gingersnap cookies
3 ounces graham crackers (about 5 cookies)
4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree (about 1/2 to 3/4 of a 15 ounce can)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves (optional)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tbs white sugar
1 egg yolk
A Cuisinart is helpful for pulverizing cookies. If you don’t have one you can put the cookies in a plastic bag, cover with a dishtowel, and let out your rage with a hammer or mallet. Don’t do this on a nice countertop, please.
1. Break gingersnap cookies and graham crackers into large chunks and crush in Cuisinart. The cookies should become a crispy mealy substance. Add the melted better to Cuisinart and combine.
2. Press the cookie mixture into a pie pan using your hands to pack down the crumbs. The crumbs will probably be a bit loose and pesky.
3. Make the pumpkin filling. Whisk together the egg and egg white. (Reserve the egg yolk for the cheesecake batter.) Add pumpkin puree, white sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and optional clove and nutmeg until combined. Add heavy cream and whisk together until creamy and pale orange.
4. Make cheesecake batter in a saucepan on the stove. Combine ingredients over low heat and whisk until smooth and a little runny.
5. Add the pumpkin batter to your cookie crust. Using a spatula, pour cheese cake batter over the pumpkin batter. Using a butter knife held vertically, swirl the cheesecake batter around until it looks as swirly as you please.
6. Set oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn temperature down to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 35 to 40 minutes. A knife inserted into the pie should come out clean.
7. Let rest in the refrigerator or at room temperature until set. As the pie cools the filling comes together. If the filling hasn’t set it will be a bit goopy (impatient people like myself don’t especially mind).