When thinking about which desserts I was going to post prior to Thanksgiving, one option that I considered was to take the less traditional route and make a pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin mousse, or even pumpkin profiteroles. But then I realized that having a Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie might be viewed as inexcusable by some of you, and I certainly don’t want to ruffle any feathers this early in my blogging career. This is the best pumpkin pie that I have ever tasted. This recipe takes your normal run-of-the-mill pumpkin pie and, as Emeril would say, “kicks it up a notch” with some pure maple syrup. The maple syrup adds a deeper and richer flavor that is complemented with the very easy pecan and gingersnap crust (you can breathe a sigh of relief–no pastry crust to deal with in this one!). Yes, as an ingredient maple syrup costs a little bit more, but for special occasions, it’s definitely worth it and makes all of the difference. This recipe only requires about 20 minutes of your time in the kitchen (not including baking time, of course), which makes it even better! Here are my notes regarding the recipe:
- If you can’t find Grade B maple syrup, then go ahead and use Grade A or Fancy. I will however, forbid you to use the “fake” stuff (no offense, Aunt Jemima). Not only would it taste different, it wouldn’t work. You can usually find Grade B at a store like Whole Foods.
- If you don’t own a candy thermometer, you can still make this recipe. The syrup will have reached “soft ball stage” when a drop forms a soft ball when put in a cup of cold water. Start testing after about 5 minutes of boiling. The recipe will still work if you are a little bit off, so don’t panic!
- The crust can be made one day prior to the filling. For me, the easiest way to make the crust is by using a food processor. I finely grind the cookies, pecans, sugar and salt together, and then I sprinkle the melted butter over the mixture and pulse until evenly coated.
- If the crust starts to get too dark when the filling is baking, cover the rim loosely with foil to shield it.
- If you have any extra pie filling, pour it into a ramekin and bake it alongside the pie until set. This way, you can “test” your work prior to sharing it with everyone else!
Maple Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for buttering pie plate
Flour, for dusting
1 cup finely crushed gingersnap cookies (about 20-25 2-inch cookies)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
Generous pinch of salt
Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch glass or ceramic pie plate, knocking out excess flour. Toss together all crust ingredients in a bowl with a fork until the crumbs are moistened, then press evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake the crust for 6 minutes, then cool on a rack.
For Pie Filling:
1 cup Grade B maple syrup
2 cups canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk (do not use skim or 2%)
2 large eggs
Raise the oven temperature to 375F degrees. In a 3 quart heavy saucepan, gently boil the maple syrup until the temperature reaches about 225 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage); cool slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cream, milk, and eggs, and then gradually whisk in the maple syrup. Pour the filling into the cooled gingersnap crust. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 1 hour or until the filling is set but the center still shakes slightly. The filling will continue to set as the pie cools. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool completely. Serve with some sweetened whipped cream.