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What makes your pumpkin pie delicious?

What makes your pumpkin pie special, delicious, and always requested? So far, my current favorite is this one: http://www.marthastewart.com/318704/p... baked in an all butter crust. The par baking helps a lot to create a sturdy crust. I do add more ginger.

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  1. Coconut milk , and crystallized ginger on top. And real sugar pumpkin.

    3 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      I also use coconut milk (full-fat canned version) and yes, it makes it delicious. And for the crust, I use coconut oil instead of butter. It almost adds the texture and richness of lard, but is much healthier. And it adds a subtle coconut taste.

      1. re: kmanihot

        For those of you who use coconut milk, are you using it to replace something, or are you adding it in addition to the usual ingredients?

        1. re: GilaB

          I have done this, too, and it's very good. It replaces the milk/cream/evaporated milk-type of ingredient(s)

    2. par-baked crust and rum come to mind

      1 Reply
      1. re: sandylc

        Ahhhh! I made some extra alterations last year and I couldn't remember what they were. I think there was some brandy in there. Yum.

      2. I make Ina's pumpkin banana tart. I love the sweetness the banana adds.

        1. A can of yams! Sounds gross, tastes good. See Cooks Illustrated for more info. Happy to paraphrase if you're interested.

            1. Bourbon or spiced rum, sour cream, maple syrup and less eggs than most recipes. I am not a fan of pumpkin pie but my husband is a connoisseur, and when I stumbled across this recipe he declared it the best pumpkin pie ever.

              4 Replies
              1. re: biondanonima

                Yes, thanks for the reminders...I do the sour cream and maple syrup, too...Much better flavor...

                1. re: sandylc

                  What are the proportions for sour cream? I switched to cream a years ago but am intrigued with the addition of sour cream instead. I do very much like brown sugar instead of white.

                  1. re: JudiAU

                    Slightly revised ingredients from a Dorie Greenspan recipe:

                    2 cups pumpkin puree
                    3 large eggs
                    3/4 - 1 cup brown sugar
                    1 1/2 cups heavy cream or coconut milk
                    1/3 cup sour cream
                    1 1/2 t. cinnamon
                    1 1/2 t. ground ginger
                    pinch cloves
                    pinch nutmeg
                    pinch salt
                    3 T. dark rum
                    2 T. maple syrup
                    2 t. vanilla

                    1. re: JudiAU

                      This is the recipe I use:


                      I use a little less cream than called for and add a bit of maple syrup (and reduce the sugar a bit). This recipe definitely requires a deep-dish pie plate.

                2. fresh ginger, great custard.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cmc2

                    How do you incorporate the fresh ginger? Grated? Steeped? Does it ruin the texture?

                    1. re: JudiAU

                      For fresh grated/minced ginger I like using this planer from Lee Valley. Good for minced garlic too.

                  2. This has been "my" pumpkin pie for the last couple T-days.


                    What makes it wonderful is it's got everything: a pumpkin layer that's really more pumpkin cheesecake and a thick chocolate mousse-like layer all in a flaky crust and topped with a sweetened sourcream layer. The flavor is wonderfully balanced despite all the layers and the presentation is pretty dramatic compared with ordinary pies.

                    It takes a bit of prep but no part of it is really hard. It just takes planning and time. I highly recommend it. I'm a big fan of cooking with pumpkin but I'd never go back to conventional pumpkin pie again.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        OK you got me ipse, I love pumpkin pie, so do tell your bacon pumpkin pie.

                        BTW - through all the posts I've seen, you have an amazing palate!

                        1. re: treb

                          I'm usually a pretty simple person when it comes to pumpkin pie -- that is, it's usually just crust and pumpkin filling.

                          But about 3 years ago, someone I was dating convinced me to try (and make) a pumpkin pie with a streusel topping.

                          Being the intrepid 'Hound that I am, I couldn't just settle for a plain-Jane walnut or pecan streusel.

                          Instead, I made a streusel with carmelized pumpkin bits, finely chopped crystallized ginger, and of course some chopped walnuts (in addition to your typical spices like cinnamon and a bit of star anise).

                          Voila! Pumpkin pie to die for (but only if you prefer "dressed" pumpkin pie, and are not a pie nudist).

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Nice way to bring a pumpkin pie outside the box!

                      2. One-third the sugar and twice the cloves.

                            1. re: DebinIndiana

                              I much prefer sweet potatoes too. Otherwise I cook the pumpkin until it's a lot drier, following Mme Benoit's mother's recipe, which really produces a different sort of pie, not so high on the wiggly custard scale.

                              I also add a lot of ginger. Use brown sugar or add a spoonful of molasses; white sugar is not very interesting tasting.

                              1. re: willownt

                                We freeze pumpkin in the fall, and sometimes use it for pies, but more often for pumpkin bread or muffins. Do the Thanksgiving and Christmas pies with sweet potato.

                                I might like to try cooking the pumpkin down a lot first. Does it get to be more caramel-y? You are still making a custard pie, but more dense, am I right?

                                1. re: DebinIndiana

                                  Yes, exactly. It becomes browner in color and thicker in texture.

                                  Mme Benoit calls for cooking 2 c puree down to 1-1/2 c while stirring regularly in a generously buttered cast iron skillet. I think as a consequence she uses more liquid than is normal; she calls for 3 c of a milk/cream mixture, but her two pie recipe comes out thinner (height) than a typical pie, more like a tart. When I made it using her recipe, it cooked much faster than a regular pie (also because the filling was somewhat warm?) and was much less custardy in texture, so I am not entirely sure how to adapt so it is more like a typical pie.

                                  Her recipes calls for 1-1/2 c strained, browned pumpkin, 2 T flour, 1 c light brown sugar, 2 c scalded milk, 1 c heavy cream, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 t nutmeg, and 2 beaten eggs to be mixed together, for two pies, and sprinkled with a mix of 2 T sugar and 1 T flour plus a pinch of ginger or cardamom. Bake 450 for 15 min, then 30 at 325.

                                  (Cook's Illustrated once recommended this, but has now moved on to adding a can of candied yams.)

                                  1. re: willownt

                                    Thanks. I think I will try this, maybe increasing the volume proportionately to get a deeper pie. Did you like the texture of the filling?

                                    I agree on adding a lot of ginger, too; I increase it in most recipes.

                                  2. re: DebinIndiana

                                    I strain my pumpkin purée in a coffee filter, like Greek yogurt. The liquid is good in soup and the pumpkin purée is nice and thick without browning and becoming caramelized.

                                2. re: DebinIndiana

                                  +1, love sweet potato pie, can do without pumpkin pie :)

                                3. Gingersnap cookie crust. Double the spices and add nutmeg (so, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). 1/2 the sugar.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. The best pumpkin pie I ever tasted was prepared by somebody who told me her "secret ingredient" was blackstrap molasses.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                      I always add a few spoons of dark molasses to pumpkin pie (which I also do for chili--gives a nice background taste that's hard to define, without excessive sweetness).

                                      1. re: pine time

                                        all my life mom took a big soup spoon and got her mouthful of molasses. I adore the flavor of it myself. it does make anything better including sticky toffee pudding, oh wait, Treacle is sorta the same

                                    2. Puréed fresh pumpkin, honey as a sweetener, very light spicing (no cloves!) and whipping cream instead of evaporated milk.

                                      1. i'm sure i'll make a few of you cringe out there - but we like our homemade "green tomato mincemeat" (no meat, no suet) in a thin layer (it's finely chopped when making the mincemeat) on the bottom and then the custard (ie the raw pumpkin pie batter) over the top - bake normally

                                        the other thing we do - and it looks very rustic - is layer a piece of parchment UNDER the pastry - makes for much easier serving and clean-up esp if you are going to a potluck or big party - no soaking that pie plate and the host does not have to feel so badly about sending you home with a grubby plate - it's pretty much spotless by using parchment ---- i suppose if you want perfect look - you could trim parchmt and fold the edges carefully --- we don't as we serve things rather more country style - so we just take a square of parchment, press it in to the pan (the sharp edges will show and you want it to to look right for rustic), pastry on top, make it fit, (bake it off if you wish - we don't) - then mincemeat, then custard ---

                                        meanwhile, the kids have been working away with the rolled pastry scraps - making leaf shapes! ---- we trim around the edge of our round pie plate with the leaf shapes (use water or milk on a bit of paper towel to make it stick) -

                                        part way thru the baking process, quickly open the oven and put some more leaves on top of the custard (if you do it when totally raw, they sink!)

                                        or make cinnamon sugar leaves and decorate after

                                        you don't need leaf-shape cookie cutters (I know that Wm Sonoma usually has a cute little set out at this time of year and yes, i have those) - usually we just use a knife and cut the shapes rustic - then carefully (so as not to cut thru the leaf shape) press the "veins" in to the leaves

                                        unique and makes it all look homemade (whether you've made the custard batter yourself or used one of the pour-and-bake options)

                                        and for a back-up plan (and another cringe!) - have to say - those already baked Costco pies out west here (Pac NW, OR, WA incl BC Canada) are dependably decent. Decorate as you wish.

                                        1. Not a traditional method by any means, but I'm told the version I make is delicious because I don't use a crust. I make individual ramekins using this recipe:

                                          And, for years now, I make this version year round because canned pumpkin is readily avail.

                                          If it seems too plain, you can add grated dark chocolate and whipped cream when you're ready to serve. Or, you can add finely grated fresh ginger to the batter before baking. Plenty of ways to doctor up the recipe.

                                          It's light and truly the best part of pumpkin pie.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I have done the same thing to save time and/or calories. It's quite nice.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              HillJ, Love the recipe! It really is the best part of the pie. :-)

                                              1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                I'm going to make the MS mousse later today. It's so satisfying.

                                            2. Sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk. Plus, a dash of mace.

                                                1. I have been known to make the recipe on the label of the 15 ounce size canned pumpkin with a few changes here and there...heavy cream, half brown sugar and half maple syrup, liberal measuring of the spices...and bake it in an 8x8 glass pan.

                                                  Just because I enjoy the pumpkin custard best... :-)

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                    I've done it similarly for years (always Grade B maple syrup, too, 'cause it's mapleier). We call it Pumpkin Pieless.

                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                      Sigh...now that I've read this thread, I am craving Pumpkin Pieless (that is the best name for it, pine time!)...why oh why do I do this to myself? ;-)

                                                      1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                        Well, since Mr. P. doesn't care much for chocolate (it's his burden to bear, meaning that I eat his portions), I make Chocolate Chipless cookies, too.

                                                    2. re: buzzardbreath

                                                      bet I know a certain gentleman on here that'd say go with the Steen's syrup

                                                    3. A friend bakes it for our communal Thanks giving dinner.

                                                      Expanded to 4 families (Children grow up and start families of their own) and 24 years going.

                                                      1. Very flaky crusts & adding more spices than any recipe I've ever read calls for.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. I think precooking pumpkin is key to the best pumpkin pie. Here is my favorite recipe. It doubles beautifully and makes one rather deep-dish 9-ich pie. I am not sure about premade pie crusts, as I always make my own and use 9-inch glass pie plate.
                                                          15 oz. canned pumpkin
                                                          6 oz. sugar (I use organic or raw )
                                                          1 tsp. cinnamon
                                                          0.5 tsp. ginger
                                                          0.5 tsp. nutmeg
                                                          1/4 tsp. allspice
                                                          This mixture needs to be cooked over low to medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. The pumpkin will look glossy and smooth, it will also darken in color.
                                                          take it off the heat and add 1 oz. butter, 0.5 can sweetened condensed milk (7 oz. by weight), 5 oz. evaporated milk, 3 large eggs , 1 oz. flour, 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt, 1 tbsp. light raw honey or 2 tbsp. grade B maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla. I mix all of this in a blender (can use food processor). The last and very important step is to push the mixture through a mesh strainer. I always prebake the crust until it is done, it should look like it is done, but not too dark. I pour the still slightly warm pumpkin filling into the still slightly warm pie shell, put the pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 250F until barely giggles. I can't give the precise time, but I think you should start checking in 30 minutes. Try it and let me know what you think.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: LawSchoolMama

                                                            Just checking - only 250F? Seems low even if precooked. I'm gonna give this a try. Have you seen that Food52 recently published a similar caramelized pumpkin pie recipe? Thank you!

                                                            1. re: Vetter

                                                              Yes, 250 F. It takes a while, but the end result is a very silky filling. I bake my signature cheesecake at 250 F also. I just realized that the recipe I posted says 1 oz. flour, it should be 0.25 oz. (approximately 1 tbsp.). I made a mistakes while scaling it down from a larger recipe. Also, this recipe makes a very sweet pie, so if you don't like it too sweet, use 3 oz. sugar. I made this recipe a couple of days ago, used 3 oz. brown sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup. It came out even better. If you want to substitute honey for maple syrup, use even less sugar. I also experimented once and used 1/4 cup heavy cream instead of butter, it was really good, kind of lighter. I think this recipe is more about the browned pumpkin and low-and-slow baking. If you are using a frozen pie shell, make sure it is deep-dish, because this recipe makes more filling than a skimpy 9 inch frozen pie shell can hold.

                                                              1. re: Vetter

                                                                I am going to check it out, I have not seen it yet.

                                                            2. Pumpkin Pecan Pie
                                                              (This recipe was either in Bon Appetit or Gourmet. I adapted it while baking in Alaska. It makes 2 or 3 pies)

                                                              Pecan layer:
                                                              1 cup dark brown sugar
                                                              4 eggs
                                                              1/2 cup light corn syrup
                                                              1/4 cup Louisiana cane syrup or unsulphured molasses
                                                              2 tsp. vanilla
                                                              2-1/2 cups pecans (broken okay), lightly toasted on cookie sheet in slow oven
                                                              Beat eggs, beat in brown sugar and syrups, vanilla. Add pecans and pour into prepared crusts. Bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Cook 10 minutes. Remove to cool slightly.

                                                              Meanwhile, prepare pumpkin pie filling:
                                                              4 eggs
                                                              32 oz. pumpkin (One qt. cooked pureed, or 2-16 oz. cans)
                                                              1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
                                                              1 tsp. salt
                                                              2 tsp. ground cinnamon
                                                              1 tsp. ground ginger
                                                              1/4 tsp. ground cloves
                                                              1/4 tsp. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
                                                              2- 12 oz. cans evaporated milk

                                                              Beat eggs lightly, adding remaining ingredients in order. Pour carefully on top of pecan layer. If you're using metal or foil pie tins, put on a metal baking sheet in oven.
                                                              Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then cover edges of crust with aluminum foil so they won’t over brown, and bake another 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until pumpkin is set. (If cracks start to form, especially in the middle, take it out --- it's done.)
                                                              At the lodge where I baked in Alaska, this was a favorite, served once a week until I ran out of pecans. When I was in a hurry, I poured in the pecan filling, then gently ladled the pumpkin filling on top of it and baked it all at once. The layers weren't as defined, but it was good. I think the crust comes out better that way, too.
                                                              This recipe also works with sweet potatoes, baked, peeled and pureed, or cooked winter squash (make sure it's not too liquid --- if it is runny, put in a fine sieve over a bowl to drain).

                                                              1. I use true ("Ceylon) cinnamon not the more common cassia. I think it tastes better.

                                                                  1. Ginger and honey - this one has been my go-to for the last few years. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                    1. I don't think you can go wrong w/the recipe on the pumpkin can.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: chefirish

                                                                        Except for having way too much sugar in it.

                                                                      2. Using fresh long neck pumpkin puree and cinnamon as the only spice.

                                                                        1. I have tried every imaginable variation including fresh pumpkin instead of canned. Couldn't tell the difference, and couldn't get enthusiastic about all the cheesecake and pecan/pumpkin or pumpkin/mincemeat versions. My favorite is NYTimes "perfect pumpkin pie," which whirls canned pumpkin, the sugars and spices in a food processor until completely smooth. Then this mixture is transferred to a bowl and beaten eggs and heavy cream are folded in. I think processing the sweetened pumpkin-spice mixture and using cream rather than condensed milk would improve any traditional recipe, even Libby's. Try it!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Seattlelinda

                                                                            Heavy cream is my secret too. Makes it so light!

                                                                          2. DW made the Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten Pumpkin Pie with Rum Whipped Cream this year. One of the best I've ever tasted.


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: DonShirer

                                                                              Hum. Very similar to what I use but a bit less sugar....

                                                                            2. i know it's a bit late this year, but for me…

                                                                              i prefer using fresh pumpkin.

                                                                              i do two variations -
                                                                              one with a little cream cheese and heavy cream instead of other liquids

                                                                              the other i like to start with homemade pumpkin butter