Monday, December 2, 2013

Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Graham Cracker Crust

I'm not a fan of pumpkin pie. I figured out the secret pumpkin pie loophole a couple years ago: pumpkin cheesecake.  I'm sorry to any pumpkin pie purists out there, but pumpkin cheesecake is just infinitely better.

However, my mother nixed pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving this year.  She claims she would rather have pumpkin pie OR cheesecake and avoid the hybrid.  I believe she has forgotten that the pumpkin pie she's been eating every year is actually my pumpkin cheesecake.

Ever the obstinate only child, I was determined to find some way around her instructions.

Since I couldn't bear to dump canned pumpkin in a prepared pie shell and put my name on it, I decided to cook and puree a fresh pumpkin, add honey for natural sweetness, and kick it up with a gingersnap crust.

(Still not as good as pumpkin cheesecake though.)

To prepare the pumpkin:
1 sugar pumpkin, halved and seeds removed

Place the two halves of the pumpkin face down in a 9x13 glass pan or microwave safe dish.  Fill with a half inch or so of water and cook in the microwave on high in for ten minutes.  After ten minutes check the pumpkin for a soft peel, rotate the halves for even cooking, and return to the microwave for another ten minutes or until peels are soft and beginning to shrivel.  Allow cooked pumpkin to cool to room temperature.

When pumpkin halves have cooled, scrape out the flesh with a large spoon.  Place the pumpkin flesh in a paper-towel lined colander or over a cheesecloth to drain, if necessary.  (Mine was pretty dry already.)

When the flesh is dry blend in a food processor until smooth.  Add the half and half, a half cup at a time, if needed.  You can set it aside or refrigerate it until ready to use at this point.


To make the crust:
8-10 gingersnap cookies
4 to 5 whole graham crackers
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Crush the cookies in a plastic bag with a mallet or rolling pin, or blend in the food processor.  (I did all three.  Gingersnaps are really freaking hard.)

Add the butter and combine until the mixture resembles wet sand.  I have purposely left this recipe vague since pat-in-pan crusts are really hard to screw up and they are all a matter of personal taste.  The only thing you can really do wrong is add too much butter, and how could that ever be wrong? Just eyeball it until it looks right to you... If it's not, just put it back in the food processor and add more cookies or butter until it does.

Press into a pie pan, smoothing with the bottom of a measuring cup, and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes until it's just toasted.

To make the filling:
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup honey
1 cup half & half (less if you added some when pureeing)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch allspice
1 pinch salt

Measure two cups of the pumpkin filling and blend in the remaining ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth (it will look watery, but that's ok).  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for about one hour, until the center looks mostly set or a knife inserted one inch from the edge comes out clean.

To serve, top with lots of freshly whipped cream.


Perfect pie.

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