A Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist for Thanksgiving

If I had to guess, I’d bet that in the week before Thanksgiving, more home cooks will pull out rolling pins and pie plates for baking than at any other time of the year. Pumpkin, pecan, apple, pear, cranberry… the choices are endless. Our family might indulge in a pecan tart or a cherry galette every now and then, but our quintessential favorite, always on the menu, is the classic pumpkin pie. This year I pulled out a recipe I created quite a few years ago and updated it with a few changes.

I used a new crust, one with more butter and no shortening. I paired toasted pecans (instead of walnuts) with toffee bits for a luscious border on top of the pumpkin filling. And, for the garnish to this Thanksgiving dessert, I added a hint of bourbon to slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Although this pie (like most) is best on the day it is baked, you can prepare the pie dough and whip the cream for the garnish a day ahead. And, you can assemble and bake the tart six hours in advance on the day it is served. However, if this doesn’t work for your schedule, you can bake the pie a day in advance, and it will still be delicious on Thanksgivng!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  Have safe travels, eat well, and enjoy being with others!







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Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Toffee Topping

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut  into 1/2-inch dice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp heavy or whipping cream
1 lightly beaten egg yolk for brushing on the pie dough

Filling and topping

One 15-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (See cooking tip.)
1/3 cup English toffee bits (See cooking tip.)
Bourbon Whipped Cream (Recipe follows.), optional

1. For the crust, place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles oatmeal flakes. With machine running, gradually add whole egg and cream through the feed tube, and process until a roughly shaped ball of dough forms. Remove and knead dough several seconds. Shape into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  

2. Arrange a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 12- inch round. Mold dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold overhanging dough in to make a high standing border, then flute edges. Freeze for 15 minutes.

3. Remove pie shell from refrigerator and brush all surfaces with beaten egg yolk. Bake until crust is set but still pale, about 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool slightly.

4. For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, cream, milk eggs, sugars, vanilla, spices, and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined. Pour into shell and bake until pie is set and crust is golden, about 55 minutes or slightly longer. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Combine pecans and toffee bits and sprinkle in a 2-inch border on top of pie while pie is hot. The heat of pie will melt toffee bits slightly and help hold nuts in place. (Pie is best made and served on the same day, but it can be baked a day ahead and kept covered at cool room temperature.)

5. To serve pie, cut into 6 to 8 slices and, if desired, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves 6 to 8

Cooking tip-To toast pecans, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place on center shelf in a preheated 350-degree F oven until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.

Cooking tip-For the English toffee bits, Heath Bits O’ Brickle work well, and are available in the baking section of many groceries.

Bourbon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp bourbon

1. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, whip cream until soft peaks form and then gradually add confectioner's sugar. Then add the bourbon and continue whipping a few seconds more until cream is just firm.

Makes about 2 cups

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2023

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