Sunday, November 23, 2014

Perfect Pumpkin Pie with Maple Whipped Cream and Sugared Pumpkin Seeds

Thanksgiving is all about tradition. In terms of dessert, everyone has their own idea of the perfect ending to the big meal, but one pie seems to trump all others on this day, and it’s pumpkin. Whether the pilgrims ate any on that big day lo those many

years ago I’m just not sure, but there’s no denying that pumpkin pie is the one thing that Americans love to eat on the last Thursday every November. I try to keep things fairly simple when I have 85 different side dishes to prepare, so I generally use

canned pumpkin puree for the filling (Libby's is my brand of choice). If you’ve got a pumpkin hanging around from Halloween by all means roast it, but my guess is your guests won’t detect much of a difference between canned and homemade puree by

the time pie-time rolls around. What follows is a version of the classic, topped off with a lovely Maple Whipped Cream and a few Sugared Pumpkin Seeds -- a delicious dessert that you and your guests can really be thankful for. I wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving from the bottom of my heart and may all your cooking and baking efforts this year fill your home with intoxicating aromas and a cornucopia of love.

Pumpkin Pie with Maple Whipped Cream and Sugared Pumpkin Seeds

Makes 8 servings

Pie Crust:
1 1/3 cups (174 g/6.2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon (1.6 g/0.06 oz) salt
8 tablespoons (113 g/4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks and frozen
1 ½ teaspoons (7 g/0.25 oz) apple cider or white vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons (44-59 g/1.5-2 oz) ice water

Pumpkin Filling:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¾ cups (425 g/15 oz) unsweetened canned (or homemade) pumpkin puree (I like Libby's)
3/4 cup (174 g/6.13 oz) heavy cream
½ cup (121 g/4.26 oz) whole milk
½ cup (100 g/3.5 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (108 g/3.8 oz) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Sugared Pumpkin Seeds:
1/2 cup (2.5 oz/70 g) hulled raw pumpkin seeds
1 large egg white
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (25 g/.88 oz) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Maple Whipped Cream:
1 cup (232 g/8.18 oz) heavy cream
2 tablespoons (40 g) maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon natural maple extract
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Make the dough for the crust:
1. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse on and off until combined. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the vinegar and 3 tablespoons of the ice water and process until the mixture just starts to come together. (If the dough seems dry, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water as necessary.)
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a thick disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Roll out the crust:
3. Lightly flour a large work surface. Place the unwrapped dough disk on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round about 1/8 inch or slightly less thick and about 3 inches greater in diameter than the pie pan you are using.
4. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (if you don’t use a deep-dish pan, there will be some filling left over) by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about 1/2 inch of overhang. Tuck the edge of the dough under iteself to create a border all the way around. Using the knuckle of your right index finger and the thumb of your left hand, crimp the edge of the dough. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork all over at 1 inch intervals.  Refrigerate the pie crust for at least 45 minutes before baking. 

Pre-bake the pie crust:
5. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line the pie crust with a piece of parchment paper or lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn't get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Bake the crust for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the filling:
6. Whisk together the eggs and pumpkin puree until blended. Whisk in the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and spices just until smooth. Pour the filling into prepared crust and transfer the pie to a baking sheet. Bake at 325°F for about 1 hour and 20 to 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the filling is almost, but not quite, set in the center -- it should be quivery, but not liquid. (But pay careful attention, as overbaking might cause the pie filling to crack on top.) Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool for at least 3 hours before serving. (If you are making the pie a day before serving, refrigerate it.)

Make the Sugared Pumpkin Seeds:
7. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the egg white just until frothy. Add just enough of the white to coat the pumpkin seeds. Add the salt, sugar, and cinnamon, and toss well to coat the seeds.
8. Spread the coated seeds in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing them occasionally with a metal spatula, for 15 to 20 minutes, until they begin to dry and color. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. With your fingers, separate any clumps of seeds. Store the seeds in an airtight container for up to a week.

Make the Maple Whipped Cream:
9. Up to an hour before serving, combine the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks just begin to form.

10. Serve slices of the pie topped with a dollop of the whipped cream and a handful of the pumpkin seeds.