Jacked-up pumpkin pie

Of all the dishes that make up the Thanksgiving meal, I have to say that dessert is my favorite. I may not partake right after the meal, but a few hours later I can be found savoring a wedge of pumpkin pie complete with a big dollop of whipped cream. Growing up it was always the classic version from the recipe on the pumpkin can, but you know me, sometimes I like to jack it up.

Because I’m also crazy about gooey pecan or walnut pie (and I don’t want to make two pies) I have a recipe that will satisfy pumpkin and nut pie enthusiasts alike. The two-layer dream has a bottom layer of toasted walnuts, butter, brown sugar and vanilla and a top layer of cream cheese, brown sugar, pumpkin and spices. A dollop of whipped cream is all that’s needed to make nut-lovers swoon.

For a no bake version of pumpkin pie try Butterscotch Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. It starts with an easy gingersnap crust (this you will bake,) that holds a filling of pumpkin, dark brown sugar, molasses, heavy cream and spices cooked on the stovetop. Whipped egg whites folded into the mixture makes it light and airy. Make this one the day before so it has plenty of time to chill in the refrigerator.

I’ll be back next week with more holiday recipes as the countdown to Thanksgiving continues.

Pumpkin-Walnut Layered Pie

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 (9-inch) piecrust

3 T. butter, melted

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar, divided

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 large eggs

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

2 T. flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp, ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On baking sheet, in single layer, toast walnuts 8 to 10 minutes till fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Roll out and place pie crust in 9-inch pie pan. Fold edges under and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes or till golden brown.

Combine toasted walnuts, butter, vanilla and 1/2 cup brown sugar; spread mixture into bottom of prepared crust.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed of electric mixer till creamy. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs and pumpkin, beating well. Combine flour and spices and add to cream cheese mixture, blending well. Pour over walnut layer.

Bake at 425 degrees 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 to 35 minutes longer or till filling is set. Let cool on wire rack 1 hour. Serves 8.

Butterscotch Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Gingersnap Crust:

1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

4 T. butter melted

Filling:

1(1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 T. unsulphured molasses

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Pinch of ground allspice

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Whipped cream

Directions: For crust, in medium bowl combine cookie crumbs and cinnamon. Stir in butter, tossing till evenly moistened. Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or till crumbs are lightly toasted. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

For filling, in a cup sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water. Let stand 5 minutes to soften.

In medium saucepan, whisk egg yolks and brown sugar till smooth. Add pumpkin, heavy cream, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt and blend well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, till mixture comes to a boil, 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin till completely dissolved. Transfer mixture to large bowl and place in larger bowl filled with ice water. Let cool, stirring occasionally, till mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon, about 15 minutes (or refrigerate, stirring occasionally, till partially set, 30 to 40 minutes.)

In large bowl beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium speed to soft peaks. Gradually add granulated sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat till stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted. Remove partially set pumpkin mixture from ice water. With rubber spatula, gently fold in beaten egg whites till blended.

Turn into cooled crust. Cover loosely and refrigerate till filling is set, 4 hours or overnight. Uncover and decorate top with whipped cream. Serves 8.

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