Experimental Pumpkin Pies

I am very, very responsible and task-oriented, which is why I spent seven hours on Halloween baking pies when I had a big translation deadline coming up later that week. Just so you don't get it into your head that I'm easily distracted or anything. This post is a little out-of-season, since I didn't bother starting this blog until well after both Halloween and Thanksgiving, the only two acceptable days for eating pumpkin pie, had passed. I am just trying to catch up on some of my past accomplishments to make my blog look more established. I'd back-date entries if only I could figure out how. Anyway, on to the pies!

Starting with the yellowish one and moving clockwise, they are: Pumpkin orange spice custard pie, Pumpkin apple pie, Pumpkin pie with chocolate shell, and Curried pumpkin pie.

We had a sugar/pie pumpkin, which I baked, then pureed to make pumpkin puree. I made the pumpkin pie filling recipe on the back of a can of Libby's canned pumpkin, then used that as a base for all the pies.

The long-named pumpkin orange spice custard pie was generally the most popular. Comments were generally along the lines of "Whoa, that's orange!", "Oh my god that's delicious", and "I've never had anything remotely like this." It's light and fruity, and the pumpkin is so subtle as to be unnoticeable, but it does a nice job of rounding out and softening the orange and blending it with the spices. I think that's the most descriptive comment I've ever made about food. It's not technically a custard, because we ran out of eggs, but it is a very rich pudding.

The pumpkin apple pie is basically the recipe from this month's Penzey's spice catalogue. Well, they provided a crust recipe and one for the pumpkin filling, but I just used my own on both counts. The idea is stolen, is all. The apples are chopped and cooked in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, then there is pumpkin filling on top and it tastes delicious together. Perfect for those who can't decide what kind of autumn holiday pie to have.

The pumpkin pie with a chocolate shell is just a regular pumpkin pie, baked and cooled, with a shell of melted chocolate spread over the top. The white chocolate looks like crap because I got water in while I was melting it (twice!) and was too lazy and frugal to melt more. I was inspired by Godiva Chocolates' dark chocolate pumpkin truffle. Their pumpkin filling is too sweet for my tastes, and I think my pie works better as a pumpkin/chocolate combination.

The curried pumpkin pie was based on a curry/cinnamon sweet dish I made with squash. I had originally intended to add just enough curry to give it a little 'warmth' like that dish had had, but I ended up adding a lot, and some cumin too, so it's quite spicy. I liked it, and think it's very interesting, and everyone who tried it liked it fairly well, but some said it would go better as a side dish than a dessert. To which I pull my beret down over my face, comment in a breaking voice that no one understands my art, and walk out. Spicy desserts are the future!

Recipes, as best I can manage.

Pumpkin Orange Spice Custard Pie
(Makes two small tarts)

Blind bake two small tart crusts.

In medium saucepan, whisk two eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, 1 T grated orange peel, 2 T pumpkin pie filling, 1 Tahitian vanilla bean - split and scraped, 2 t cornstarch, pumpkin pie spices to taste. Add 1/3 cup butter and heat until mixture thickens, but do not allow to boil. Mix in 1/3 cup half and half and another 2 T pumpkin pie filling. Whisk until thick and smooth and beginning to bubble. Pour into pie crusts and allow to cool.

Penzeys Apple Pumpkin Pie

Apple pie or pumpkin pie? Can’t decide? This is the pie for you. A layer of tart apples in a caramel sauce covered with a layer of traditional pumpkin. Add some fresh whipped cream and you’re in heaven.

Crust: Makes one 9 inch crust
1⁄2 Cup butter or shortening
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 Cup milk

1⁄3 Cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. CHINA CINNAMON, divided
1⁄2 tsp. salt, divided
1⁄3 Cup water
2 TB. butter
3 Cups Granny Smith or McIntosh apples, peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch thick (about 3 apples)
3⁄4 Cup canned solid packed pumpkin
3⁄4 Cup evaporated milk
1⁄3 Cup sugar
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375°. To prepare the crust, cut the butter into small pieces; it doesn’t have to be cold, but it should not be warm to the point of melting. Add
the flour, CREAM OF TARTAR, and salt, beat or mix by hand to combine. Add the milk in a thin stream, mixing until thoroughly blended. Sprinkle a wooden board or counter top with fl our, place the dough on the board, and sprinkle the top of the dough with fl our. Using short strokes with a rolling pin, roll it from the center to the edges until it is 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch thick. You will want to turn the dough over and re-dust with fl our halfway through. Roll until the crust is about an inch larger than your 9 inch pie pan when inverted. Fold the crust in half and in half again so that it looks like a triangle. Place it in the ungreased pie pan with the point in the center. Unfold the crust and ease it into the pan. Roll the edges of the overhanging crust under so that you have a nice rim around the pie plate. Set aside.

In a roomy skillet, combine the brown sugar, ARROWROOT STARCH, 1⁄2 tsp. CINNAMON, and 1⁄4 tsp. salt. Add the PURE VANILLA EXTRACT, water and butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken, creating a caramel sauce. Add the apples and continue cooking over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, egg, 1⁄2 tsp. CINNAMON, and 1⁄4 tsp. salt. Pour over the apple layer. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Check the crust occasionally; if it looks too brown, cover the edges with foil. Cool completely before cutting. This pie should be refrigerated.

Serves: 8-12
Prep. time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes

Pumpkin pie with chocolate shell

Make a pumpkin pie using your favourite recipe. Melt enough dark or semi-sweet chocolate with a little butter in a double boiler to coat top. Spread over top with a spoon and cool in refrigerator. If desired, melt a small amount of white chocolate and make designs with a toothpick (before cooling, obviously).

Curried pumpkin pie

Add curry, cumin, and turmeric as desired to pumpkin pie filling. Stir, then bake according to your favourite pumpkin pie recipe. (I used about 1 T curry, 1/2 t cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper for two small tarts.)