In my family, we travel for Thanksgiving more often than not. We have a large group, and hosting is passed around year after year, so no one person or family is left with the responsibility all the time. As it so happens, the delegated dishes also change. Some years you'll be asked to bring the mashed potatoes. That is, until you put garlic in them and Cousin Frieda makes sure you never end up with that dish again. (Never mind you think her mashed potatoes are bland without loads of butter and gravy.) Other years you may be in charge of sweet potatoes or dinner rolls, and of course, inevitably you'll end up with desserts as well.
I remember the first year I was given the desserts. Immediately I felt a great deal of pressure. Would my pies look good? Would they taste okay? What if I screw them up? Perhaps I should just purchase them. In the end, I made three: a pumpkin pie, a classic apple and a pumpkin cheesecake.
All of the desserts were eaten with heavy forkfuls and full bellies singing their praises. I was in. I had mastered the Thanksgiving Day pie, second only to the perfect turkey in the traditional meal. Here, my friends, is my pumpkin pie recipe, fiddled with and tinkered with and perfected until it was just right for one small slice of indulgence on Thanksgiving.
Maple Pumpkin Cream Pie
Pie crust for 1 9" pie using your favorite recipe
2 cups pumpkin purée, homemade and strained
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
4 ounce softened Neufchâtel or cream cheese
½ cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350º F. Roll out the pie crust and press into the bottom of a 9" pie plate. Using pie weights or dry beans to hold the pie crust down, bake for 10 minutes at 350º F. Take the pie weight off and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Mix together the purée, syrup and salt together in a food processor or mixer. Beat in Neufchâtel. Add in both eggs, yolk and heavy cream until incorporated. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Pour the pumpkin mix into the prebaked pie crust and bake at 350º F for 60-70 minutes until a knife inserted 1" from the edge of the crust comes out clean.
Makes one 9" pie
Photo by Shaina Olmanson
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