This is the recipe for the very first pumpkin pie I'd ever made, in my life, like ever.
A great moment in my cooking evolution was Thanksgiving of 2002. I was out east, living in an old apartment in New Haven with my then-fiance Andrew (aka The Hubsters). We found ourselves spending Thanksgiving alone together, not being able to fly back home to California for the holiday. Knee deep in first year law school, I needed a desperate change of scenery from mundane Torts and Civil Procedure, so I decided to make Thanksgiving dinner myself, by myself, from scratch, for the first time...ever. And in addition to cooking a turkey for the first time, I also undertook the process of making pumpkin pie, completely from scratch (pastry dough to filling) as well.
I grabbed this recipe from the now-defunct but still awesome Gourmet Magazine and made the pie. Andrew said it was the best he'd ever had, hence the renaming. And I'm so happy and excited to share it with you as well...
Andrew's Favorite Pumpkin Pie
1 prepared, bar-baked pie shell ready for filling (recipe here)
1 (30 oz) can (or 2 15-oz cans) sold-pack unseasoned pumpkin puree (recommend: Libby's or Trader Joe's organic)
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup breandy or congnac
5 large eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
you really want it firm 2 inches from the edges and a little trembling in the middle; more than that and it's undercooked.
Cool pie completely on rack for 2 hours -- filling will continue to set as pie cools.
Serve a large sliced garnished with whipped cream if desired.
I like using leftover pie crust to make decoratie cookies to top the pie (as pictured above). To do these, all you need is:
- extra pie crust
- 1 egg lightly beaten + splash of water for eggwash
- white sanding sugar or superfine granulated sugar
- silpat or parchment paper
I like to make a few extra in case some break or burn (and a nice snack for the cook!).
Place cut-outs on a baking dish lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Space them out about an inch apart, then brush the tops with the eggwash. The egg/water mixture will help the sugar adhere to the surface of the cookie. Then sprinkle some of the sugar right on top of the cookies -- don't be shy with it but don't overdo it either!
I like using different shapes of leaves to decorate the pie, but you can use just one shape or two if you like. Whatever you want! You're the artist!
Bake the cookies in a 350 dgree oven (just place them right in on a different rack with the pumpkin pie) for 7 minutes, or until edges start to get golden brown. Remove and set aside to cook on a cooling rack.
To decorate the pie, place the cookies right on top of the pie as it gets taken right out of the oven. This is very important, as in the first 5 minutes from being taken out, the pumpkin puree part is still soft enough where you can press the cookies in easily. Set pie to cool for 2 hours and then serve!
And another note -- if you find the edges of your pie crust are starting to burn a little, but the center of your pie is still not done, take some aluminum foil and make a rough ring shape about the size of the diameter of your pie pan. Gently place the aluminum foil around the crust, leaving the center only exposed. The aluminum foil will protect the crust from exposure to the heat, while allowing the rest of the pie to finish cooking.
Working with custard-filled pies like pumpkin pies sometimes do this, especially if you did a decorative raised or crimped crust border. So I've found this little trick invaluable in the Baking Odyssey. Another trick most recipes won't tell you!
*A Silpat is a silicon mat that is used for baking. It's amazing and nothing ever sticks to it -- not even sugar! If you're an avid baker or plan to practice a lot of cookies for the holidays, I highly recommend investing in at least one if not two of these. They're wonderful and will last you forever.