Thursday, November 17, 2016
Brandied "Pumpkin" Pie
Some prefer apple. Others go for pecan. A few brave the world of "mincemeat." But few can deny that pumpkin is the most traditional flavor of pie to serve for Thanksgiving.
Pumpkin is easy to acquire. Just buy a can of Libby's pumpkin puree and call it a day. Or....shake things up. Ditch the can and make a better pumpkin pie by not using pumpkin at all. Instead, make "pumpkin" pie with butternut squash. After all, I've ready that Libby's pumpkin isn't really pumpkin anyway but Dickinson squash--although Libby's will call it Dickinson pumpkin, and I might point out that "pumpkin" is a sort of generic term anyway, rather than a name for specific type of squash. So, it's all good (Snopes even looked into this).
However, it's even better if you use butternut squash, which is, after all, my favorite squash, and I suspect it might be yours as well (it's really good). Just roast the squash first and puree it, making sure you have enough for 1 3/4 cups, which is about the amount you'd get in a 15 oz. can. And since booze and dessert go so well together, this recipe also calls for some brandy. Cheers to that!
Just who came up with this wonderful variation on the Thanksgiving pie? Melissa Clark, the New York Times recipe writer who, at this point, I think is safe to say is the goddess of all things delicious. Seriously, I've never met a Melissa Clark recipe that wasn't incredibly good (her garlicky chicken thighs and pinto bean soup recipes are among my favorites).
Brandied "Pumpkin" Pie
Adapted from a New York Times recipe by Melissa Clark
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (150 grams)
1/4 tsp. salt
10 tbsp. (1 stick plus 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 to 4 tbsp. ice water
For the filling:
2 1/2 to 3 lb. butternut squash (to make 1 3/4 cups butternut squash purée)
2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
All-purpose flour (for the work surface)
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (153 grams)
2 tbsp. brandy
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
Pinch ground clove
1. Make the crust: add the flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse into the mixture forms pea-size pieces. Add ice water in 1-tbsp. increments, pulsing after each addition, until the dough just comes together (you may not use all the water). The dough should be moist but not wet. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a ball, then flatten it into a large disc. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, up to 2 days.
2. Make butternut squash purée: Preheat oven to 400 F. Peel and halve the squash and remove and discard its seeds (pro tip: an ice cream scoop works great for removing squash seeds and slimy membranes). Cut the squash into 1 1/2-inch pieces and place them in a large bowl. Pour the melted butter over the squash and toss to coat. Transfer the buttered squash cube to a baking sheet and roast, stirring every 15 minutes, until the squash is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool, then puree in a food processor.
3. Lightly flour a work surface. Place the chilled dough disc in the center and roll out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edges of the dough under so the dough comes up to the top of the pie plate (see photo above). Crimp the edges with fork tines and prick it the dough all over with the fork. Place the pie plate in the refrigerator to chill the crust for 30 minutes (don't skip this step--the dough needs to be cold when it goes in the oven to minimize shrinkage).
4. Heat the oven to 375 F. Line the top of the chilled crust with aluminum foil and weight it down with pie weights (you can also use coins or dried beans). Bake the pie crust for 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool a bit.
5. Lower oven temperature to 325 F. To the bowl of a food processor, add the squash purée, eggs, cream, dark brown sugar, brandy, ginger, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, nutmeg and clove. Turn on the food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour squash mixture into the cooled pie shell. Set the pie plate on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling jiggles just a bit in the middle when shaken, about 50 to 75 minutes (Clark says to bake the pie 50 to 60 minutes; I recommend using an instant-read thermometer and cooking the pie until the filling registers 165 F). Remove the pie from the oven and cool before serving.