Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Hello, Gentle Readers.  Long time, no post.  Those who know me in real life have seen that it's been a busy time for me at work.  After all, Halloween parties and haunted houses have to get their cadavers from somewhere.  With Halloween behind me, though, it's time to turn to that most glorious of food holidays: Thanksgiving.

This time of year, I tend to pick up cans of pumpkin before I even know what I'm going to do with them.  This may be apparent from the many times I've used pumpkin in the past, but it's one of my favorite flavors for fall (I even made those pumpkin chocolate chip cookies again for my co-workers just last week).  And it occurred to me that, for all the pumpkin recipes I've posted, not one of them has been a traditional pie.

You know how sometimes you have a crystal clear memory of something from your childhood?  Most of the past is vague and murky, but there are spots where you remember exactly what someone said, or how something smelled, or what that view looked like.  I have one of those for pumpkin pie.  It was from my less adventurous culinary days, when I was the pickiest eater to walk the earth, and I looked with trepidation as a friend happily ate a piece of this weird, orange, custard-y looking pie.  Out of curiosity, I asked what it tasted like, and she replied, "Like sugar and happiness and whipped cream".

Well, who wouldn't want to try that?

This pumpkin pie is much simpler than it probably sounds.  The gingersnap crust does require the use of a food processor, but if you're used to making your own butter or shortening pie crusts, this will be  a snap (get it?) to put together.  For the filling I just followed the good old Libby's recipe on the back of the can.  Add a little cinnamon to a traditional whipped cream and you've got a pie that seems extra-special without a lot of extra work.

Give it a try this Thanksgiving.  It tastes like happiness.

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust and Cinnamon Whipped Cream (adapted from Libby's)

For the Crust:
8 oz. (about 3 cups or 25 market pantry brand) gingersnap cookies
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

For the Filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

To Make the Crust:
Break up the cookies in the bowl of a food processor with a blade attachment.  Once full, pulse the food processor until the cookies are fine crumbs.

Brown the butter by putting it in a light-colored saucepan and melting over medium heat.  Continue to heat and stir the butter until the foam subsides and brown specks start to appear in the bottom of the pan.  Immediately remove from heat and pour the brown butter into the food processor with the gingersnap crumbs.  Pulse until the crumbs have been combine with the melted butter.

Pour crumbs into a 9 inch pie plate.  Use your hands or something with a flat surface to press the crumbs into the plate to form a crust along the bottom and sides.  Preheat oven 325°F and put the pie plate in the fridge for 20 minutes.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the crust from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool while the oven heats up and you make the filling.

To Make the Fillng:
Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.  In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and all the spices.  In a large bowl, beat the 2 eggs, then add the sugar mixture and stir to combine.  Add the pumpkin and stir together, than finally add the evaporated milk gradually and stir until it all comes together.

Pour the mixture into the gingersnap crust, and cover any crust that's sticking out too much with a pie crust shield or aluminum foil.  Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completed on a wire rack (about 2 hours).

To Make the Whipped Cream:
Pour all ingredients into the bowl of a stand or hand mixer and whip with a whisk attachement on medium-high until soft peaks form.  Serve a piece of pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream on top.

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