I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate the traditional pumpkin pie that always appears on Thanksgiving. About 30 years ago, when I started to really experiment with cooking, I realized it was the consistency of pumpkin pie that bothered me, not just the taste. I then made it my mission to find something that was unusual and then adapt it from there. This particular recipe is the final result – it combines toasted pecans and rum for a rich, nutty flavor, and with heavy cream instead of the traditional evaporated milk, it has a nice consistency that is fluffier than other pies. The ginger adds a bit of interest, and cuts the squashy taste of the pumpkin. It’s an easy recipe and don’t worry – the alcohol in the rum bakes out, so it can be served to anyone.
A deep-dish pie plate works best, and even then there will be some filling leftover. I use a ramekin and bake it along with the pie as a taster for the boys.
Makes one pie.
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (1 small can)
¾ cup pecan halves or pieces
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup dark rum
1T ground cinnamon
1-1/2 t ground ginger
1t each ground cloves, allspice and nutmeg
1 ½ cups heavy cream
First make the filling:
Toast the pecans in a metal pie plate or on a baking sheet. I usually put them in on a broil setting and watch them carefully. Shake it from time to time to toast all sides. It takes about 5 minutes. Do not let them burn – I always add a few extra to the pan because that way I can eliminate the ones that inevitibly get a bit black. Cool pecans to room temperature. They should look something like this picture. Anything darker will be bitter, so be sure to pick them over.
Place the pecans in a food processor and zap until ground. Add pumpkin puree and zap until smooth. Scrape into a large bowl. Beat in eggs, sugar, rum, and spices in that order with a wire whisk until blended. Add cream and stir. It should then look like this. Taste at this point and adjust the spices to your liking. I usually add more ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg than what I have above, but we like a spicy pie.
Now for the crust.
Use any pie pastry recipe for a short crust, or a store-bought crust will work too. Here’s my pie crust recipe, in case you’d like to try it.
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or pastured leaf lard
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup water
Mix the shortening and dry ingredients together, and add enough of the water to create a firm, slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary. Don’t over knead – just a few quick passes will be perfect. Roll out dough and line pie pan. Use any extra dough for decorations around the outside of the pie. I like to use a small cutter and make leaves as a ring around the pie. You an also cook the shapes on a baking sheet and add them to the top of the pie after baking, if you wish. Both work very well. Pour the pumpkin into the pastry-lined pan, pouring any overflow into a ramekin as a tester. Be aware the tester will be done first. Check it at 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake until a knife inserted just off the center of the pie comes out cleanly – about 40-45 minutes longer. If you are using a shallow pan, check it at about 30 minutes. I use a deep glass pan, so I have to add 25 degrees to the temperatures listed above. Here’s what it should look like right out of the oven.
Serve at room temperature with whipped cream very lightly dusted with cinnamon. Keeps 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but bring to room temp before serving.
It’s wonderful with coffee. Or, you can pair it with a velvety white port, or a rich, tawny port if you like something a bit more robust.
Enjoy my non-traditional take on a traditional dessert.