Thanksgiving is a holiday most people are fairly particular about. Dressing vs. stuffing, marshmallows vs. no marshmallows, etc. etc. I’ve found through thorough polling that people seem to be fairly particular about their Thanksgiving pies as well, at least in terms of the types of pies they would like to enjoy and have grace their tables next to the familiar turkey.
Thanksgiving is about nostalgia and tradition, and no matter how gracious I am to accept an invitation from a distant relative of friend to their Thanksgiving celebrations, it is always tinged with a tiny bit of sadness that I will no doubt be enjoying celebratory dishes different from my own.
Pumpkin pie is one of those dishes that everyone expects. I am saying this with the knowledge, that whomever is reading this may feel exactly the same way about pecan pie as I do about pumpkin— again, the nature of the holiday. However, despite our differences regarding beloved and less beloved Thanksgiving dishes, I think we can all agree on one thing: All pies are certainly not created equal.
So when you find a pie that makes your eyes shut and the corners of your lips curl upward into a sort of dazed sleepy smile and head cock a little to the side, you know you have found a good one.
- 4, 2-inch gingersnaps (29 g)
- ¼ cup toasted pecans, broken into pieces (25 g)
- 1 can unsweetened pumpkin (425 g)
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar,firmly packed (163 grams)
- 2 tsp fresh ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup milk (160 g)
- ⅔ cup heavy cream (153 g)
- 3 large eggs (150 grams)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Between two lightly floured silpats, roll the pastry ⅛-inch thick and large enough to cut an even 13-inch circle. Transfer it to the pie pan and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself. Crimp as desired.
- Process the gingersnaps and pecans until finely ground. Sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie crust and using your fingers and the back of a spoon, press them into the dough to coat the bottom of the crust.
- In a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick and shiny.
- Scrape the mixture into a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, and process for 1 minute. With the motor on, add the cream and milk, processing until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the work bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing just to incorporate, for about 5 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla along with the last egg.
- Pour the mixture into the pie shell and set it directly on the floor of the oven. Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a knife inserted will come out almost clean. The filling will have puffed and the surface dulled except for the center (The filling shakes like jelly when moved. This will happen before it has finished baking so it cannot be used as a firm indication of doneness; conversely, if it does not have this consistency you can be sure that it is not baked adequately.) If the crust appears to be darkening too much on the bottom, raise the pie to the next rack. After 30 minutes, you can protect the edges with a foil ring.