Tag Archives: pumpkin pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

31 Oct


There is a distinct rank and file to my Thanksgiving table:

1. Pumpkin Pie

2.  Pumpkin Pie

3. Oyster dressing

4. Turkey

Nothing upstages pumpkin pie in my book.  About three weeks before Thanksgiving, I find myself drawn to every magazine at the grocery store.  “Your best Thanksgiving Ever!” (Yes!)  “A Pumpkin Pie to Wow Them!” (Of course!) “The Best of the Best Pie Recipes for Your Table!” (This is the one!).  And every year I set out to find the best pumpkin pie recipe – one that people will talk about for years to come.  It never fails, the chosen recipe tastes like, well…pumpkin pie.  I was starting to feel like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to come, each year hoping that the recipe Gods would pick me as the most sincere baker of all.  That is until last year when Dorie Greenspan and her Caramel Pumpkin Pie entered my life.

If you own only one baking cookbook, I say it should be Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  She’s the author of Baking With Julia (yes, Julia Child) and knows her stuff.  Her technique of caramelizing a portion of the sugar before adding it to the pumpkin mixture gives this pie a depth of flavor that will knock your socks off.  It’s like a pumpkin pie has hit puberty – that soft, sweet, creamy pastry grows up to be a deeper, darker, more mature dessert that means business.  If you’re like me and always looking for that next best thing – this is your year!!  Continue reading


Pumpkin Pie Bites

26 Sep

* Update – I made these hand pies again and used a 2 1/2 inch diameter glass to make them a little smaller.  This allowed me to get a dozen from 1 recipe of dough and the serving is a little smaller (which means less calories!).

Fall has me feeling like pie (shock, so did spring and summer).  My son Elliot has been reminding me all weekend that it is officially Fall and wondering when we can have our first pumpkin pie.  I have this weird issue about having pumpkin pie before Thanksgiving.  It’s my absolute favorite pie, but I just can’t bring myself to make one if there isn’t turkey on the table.  I’m all over anything else that has pumpkin in it – lattes, cookies, bread, pasta – the seasonal eater in me is at her best in the Fall.

With pumpkin in the air and pie on my mind, what’s a girl to do?  It’s time to go back to pie-that-isn’t-pie… pumpkin style!

Hand pies – practice makes perfect

When I first started this quest a couple of months ago, I dove right into perfecting the hand pie.  They’re such a throw back and with a vanilla glaze, are reminiscent of the Hostess pies I used to eat as a kid.  That is, if you make them right.  After eleven – yep – ELEVEN attempts, I finally nailed it tonight on my twelfth attempt at perfect hand pies.  Here are my lessons learned from the many failed attempts:

All butter isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

I so want to be a believer of all butter crust, but it just has not worked for me with hand pies.  Every time I tried, my dainty little pies ended up cooking in a pool of butter on parchment paper.  The result was a chewy, inedible crust and a total waste of good filling.  So I went out and bought a store bought crust just to see what would happen.  Do you know what happened?  The most beautiful little hand pies, all crisp, brown and flaky.  Why, you ask?  All LARD.  LARD – the homecoming queen of pie crust.  So, I experimented and found that if I increased the shortening, my crust was much better.

Cold, cold and colder

These hand pies are not for the faint of heart or short on time.  They take a serious commitment and some preparation.  To make a hand pie, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it as if you were rolling a pie and just as thin.  Using a round cookie cutter (anywhere from 3 to 5 inches in diameter depending on the finished size you want), cut circles and gently place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  If you have scraps and need to re-roll them to get more circles, wrap them back up into a disc, cover with plastic wrap in chill in in the fridge for 10 minutes.  Once you have cut all of your circles, place them back in the fridge while you make your filling.  Once your filling is ready, take the circles out of the fridge and fill your hand pie (instructions to come).  Once the pies are sealed and filled, put them back in the fridge (or freezer) for 10-15 minutes.  Then, you’re ready to bake them.  If you didn’t notice, there’s a lot of fridge time!  It’s totally worth it.

Filling is key

I made a mistake early on by making pie filling and putting it uncooked into the hand pies as I would a regular pie.  This resulted in an inside crust that seemed under baked.  I realized that you need to fully cook your fillings and then bring them to room temperature before filling a hand pie.  Once I began to precook my fillings, the pies baked so much better!

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