• Stir It Up: Pumpkin pie palooza
     | November 29,2013
    Photo by Pernille Pedersen

    Pumpkin pie on steroids: A gingersnap crust and layer of chocolate put this pie over the top. The photo and recipe are from “Jenny McCoy’s Desserts for Every Season.”

    You know who you are: the pumpkin pie haters. You say, with false chagrin, “Oh, I’ve never really liked the texture,” as your hostess looks crestfallen. Or it’s just “too pumpkin-y.” Normally, I’m all about “to each his or her own,” but this time of year I am also all about pumpkin pie. If you don’t like it, bring your own dessert.

    I’ve gone through many pumpkin pie phases. The first, which lasted quite a few years, involved roasting and pureeing pumpkin, and using a recipe from a Depression-era cookbook that required almost nothing but an egg, a bit of sugar and some cinnamon and cloves. I thought it brought out the “true pumpkin” flavor, but, to be honest, it was a bit boring.

    There was a brief pumpkin chiffon phase. There was a crustless pie period aimed at avoiding the calories in the crust (huge mistake). Two years ago, I discovered a pumpkin pie palooza in a cookbook by chef Bradley Ogden. It had a sour cream crust and three layers: custard, chiffon and whipped cream. It’s fabulous. But I’ve found a rival. A pumpkin pie with a gingersnap crust and — wait for it — a layer of chocolate on top.

    The recipe comes from the elegant “Desserts for Every Season” by Jenny McCoy. The pie is best served shortly after it is made, although you can make the pie part a day ahead and add the chocolate layer at the last minute. You just might win over those pumpkin pie haters.

    Pumpkin-Milk Chocolate Pie

    Yield: 8 servings

    For the crust:

    Nonstick cooking spray

    1½ cups cookie crumbs made from about 6 ounces gingersnap cookies

    2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

    ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

    For the filling:

    ½ cup packed light brown sugar

    ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

    1½ cups canned pumpkin or roasted pumpkin squash puree (see note)

    4 large eggs

    1 large egg yolk

    ¾ cup heavy cream

    1 tablespoon molasses

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

    For the chocolate ganache:

    ½ cup milk chocolate chips

    3 tablespoons heavy cream

    1 tablespoon light corn syrup

    For serving (optional):

    1 cup heavy cream, whipped

    Make the crust (up to a week ahead): Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.

    Stir together the cookie crumbs, brown sugar, salt and butter until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Spoon into the pie plate and firmly and evenly pack the mixture on bottom and sides. Allow about ¼ inch excess to rise above the pan’s edge.

    Set the pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake until the crust is lightly puffed and has darkened a bit, about 8 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the freezer until ready to use. If making ahead of time, wrap well in plastic wrap before freezing.

    Make the filling (up to one day in advance): Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees (or preheat the oven, if there is a gap between baking the crust and the pie).

    In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, salt, pumpkin, whole eggs, egg yolk, cream, molasses, vanilla and spices until completely smooth. Pour into the baked crust and cover the exposed crust edges with foil to prevent burning. Bake until the custard is set in the center when pie slightly jiggles, 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, remove the foil and refrigerate 30 to 45 minutes to set. Once set, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

    Make the ganache: Put chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil. Pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let stand until slightly warmer than room temperature. Spoon onto pie, using back of the ladle to spread it out. Refrigerate for 5 minutes, then spread again to create a “rustic” texture. Refrigerate until fully set before slicing, about 20 minutes. Serve with a spoonful of whipped cream, if desired.

    Note: For a superior pie, slice and seed a 4-pound sugar pumpkin and a 4-pound kabocha squash and place in a baking dish with ¼ inch water. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until flesh is tender. When cool, scrape off flesh and puree. Refrigerate or freeze. Canned pumpkin puree is second-best but still delicious.

    (Recipe from “Jenny McCoy’s Desserts for Every Season”; Rizzoli, 2013)

    Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.

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