Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie & Mini Pies - Recipe Post #1

We don't wait for the holidays around here to break out the pumpkin pie! It's one of my favorite things to make. So, why the heck wait for November to roll around? I don't do anything special...just following directions. It's a simple yet fool-proof recipe I found years ago on simplyrecipes.com. It's dee-licious!

- 2 cups of pumpkin pulp puree from a sugar pumpkin OR I use canned pumpkin puree which is a lot less messy if you ask me!
- 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups of packed dark brown sugar (I've been using regular brown sugar just fine in case you're wondering if there's any mayjah differences)
- 1/3 cup of white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg yolks + the yolk of a third egg
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon (I almost never add this because I never have it on hand...makes NO difference, promise!)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
AND of course 1 good crust!

- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of chilled vegetable shortening
- 5 to 6 tablespoons of ice-cold heavy cream
*crust recipe taken from "Sweety Pies" by Patty Pinner, available from Williams Sonoma.

You'll want to roll out your pie crust and pre-bake it first off, as it's the most time-consuming and tedious...especially if you're not used to making crust from scratch. It can be tricky...took me 3-4 hours the very first time I made a pie! Haahaaaa! This is the same pie crust recipe I use for ALL my pies...

Sift the sugar, flour and salt together in a large bowl and then cut in the shortening with your fingers until the mixture almost resembles a bowl of peas. Tossing the mixture quickly, sprinkle in the heavy cream, little by little...I almost NEVER use the full 5-6 tablespoons the recipe requires as you don't want a sopping wet crust...just enough to make it stick together well, fascilitating when the crust is rolled out and needs to be transfered to the baking dish to be baked.
With lightly floured hands, loosely gather the dough into a flat ball, place it a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate for about 30 minutes or 10 mins in the freezer. Once you take out the ball, roll out the dough to roughly the size of the pie dish, but slightly larger to make sure your crust takes up the whole pie dish.

Crust rolled out and carefully placed into the pie baking dish, flute the edges against the ridges of the dish and then refridgerate the crust to prepare it for baking. Refridgerate for 30 minutes OR you can do it like me and stick her in the freezer for a good 10 minutes.
Then, remove from fridge, line with wax paper or parchment paper and fill with weights OR beans as I do. The dried beans or weights will prevent the crust from puffing up while baking. Set the crust in a 425 degree oven and bake about 10 minutes (till the edges start to turn light brown). Take the crust out and remove the wax paper and weights.
Reduce the oven's temp down to 350 and return the crust for another 5 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack while you prepare your pumpkin filling!

Alrighty! Pie crust outa the way and you're practically in the clear! The crust is always the hardest part...fillings are always fun and easy!
So, for the filling, mix the sugars, salt, spices and lemon zest in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Stir in the cream. Whisk the yumminess all together until everything is well incorporated.
Pour your filling into your pie crust shell that has been sitting on the side and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. THEN, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes OR until you can stick a knife in the center and it comes out perfectly clean. Cool the pie on a rack for 2 hours and you are donezo!

Aside from the main pie, the mini pies are my absolute favorite little treat...check them out here...warm and topped with vanilla ice cream...my husband loves these little guys and I'm sure yours will too. Fun little desserts are always the way to a man's little corazon (ummm, corazon is Spanish for heart)...lol...and speaking of fun little desserts, I've got a few more up my sleeve so look out for more of these yummy recipe posts!


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