November 13, 2009
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I’ve got pie on my mind. Every year, when Mom cooks the bird, I’m usually given the assignment to bring pie and wine. I welcome that assignment wholeheartedly. I like pie. I like wine. Though not usually together.
A few years ago, I got to thinking. Pumpkin pie is fabulous, and I really do love it plain. But after the sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes and other soft mushy deliciousness, I was craving an enhanced version of pumpkin pie, with a little caramel sweetness and hint of pecan crunch. I pulled this idea off the internet a few years ago and I thought I’d share.
Sometimes it’s called Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Pie, but I like it better when it’s called Praline Pumpkin Pie. It’s a huge hit in my family. Combine it on a plate with a slice of our family recipe for Key Lime Pie, and you’re in Pie Heaven.
It’s super easy, and very yummy. You bake a regular pumpkin pie, just like you would ordinarily make. Then you add this special topping in the last 10 minutes.
Praline Pumpkin Pie
OK peeps, I confess. To make a regular pumpkin pie, I use the recipe on the back of the Libby can, and I use the Libby pumpkin mix. This is not a paid advertisement, I just happen to like this kind of canned pumpkin.
Ooooh, the big can. We’re makin’ more than one.
I do three things a little differently than their recipe on the can. First, I use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, and I cut back on the evaporated milk by 3 ounces to really bring out the flavor of pumpkin. Finally, I enhance with a caramel pecan topping. Easy peasy !
Ingredients for one pie:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
15 oz. can pure pumpkin
12 oz. can evaporated milk (minus 3 ounces)
Unbaked deep dish pie shell
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup diced pecans
15-20 pecan halves
Follow directions on the back of the can by combining the sugar, salt and spices in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat eggs, then add pumpkin and evaporated milk. Blend all the ingredients together in the large bowl, pour into pie shell, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn down oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes more.
Now, here comes the good part.
For the topping, in a small bowl blend your butter, brown sugar, and diced pecans.
Melt it on high in your microwave for 90 seconds and make this bubbly caramel goodness. Keep it warm, don’t let it solidify. And try to resist sticking your fingers in it and licking. Just try.
When your pie has baked for the first 50 minutes (including the 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then the 35 minutes at 350 degrees) pull it out of the oven and layer your pecans halves around the edge.
Then pour the warm caramel goodness over the top, and place your pie on a baking sheet to avoid any drips on the bottom of your oven.
Oh, yeah baby.
Bake your pie for another 10 to 12 minutes, then let it cool for at least an hour.
Serve with a giant dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pumpkin + Sweetness + Crunch
Since one slice of pie is never enough, here is our family’s recipe for key lime pie that also disappears very quickly. I find the citrus contrasts so nicely with the pumpkin.
Grandma Carole’s Easy Key Lime Pie
Graham cracker crust
15 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice
3/4 teaspoon lime zest
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
In a bowl, blend together sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lime zest, and lime juice. Bake in graham cracker crust at 325 degrees for 15 – 17 minutes. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, or one day ahead. For topping, in a chilled bowl, blend together cold heavy cream and powdered sugar with hand mixer. Dollop on top of slice of key lime pie, served cold.
Now for the funny story about Key Lime juice.
My husband is famous for coming home, pulling open the fridge, grabbing the first bottle of juice he can find, and glugging it down. He’s a thirsty guy, and he loves juice.
One day after my stepdaughter and I had whipped up some Key Lime pies for whatever reason, the husband waltzes through the front door, opens the refrigerator door as usual, grabs the bottle of key lime juice without reading the label, twists off the lid, tilts his head back, and just starts chugging.
It took 2 seconds for his brain to register what his throat had already swallowed. His face turned purple, his eyes bugged out of his head, his nostrils flared, and he spit whatever was leftover in his mouth into the kitchen sink. I’m still surprised he made it to the sink. After some rounds of coughing and gagging, he finally turns to look at the bottle. We just stood there in shock and awe. Then we laughed our brains out.
Do you have any tricks for making your pie the best on the block? What are your favorite Thanksgiving pie recipes ? Do share !