How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was low-key, in a good way. I cooked some, but not as much as usual, and I was just fine with that. I can’t stay the meal suffered for it any either, though my ego might have just a tiny bit. Actually, the more I think about it, it’s nice that Thanksgiving, for us, is about the food but more than that, about everyone getting together year after year to share the meal together and reflect upon what we are thankful for. This year Isla wasn’t crazy about being put on the spot about what she was thankful for (maybe she needs another year before she’s ready to speak in front of a group) but Emmett said that he was grateful for “Grocery shopping with his Mama” which was definitely the highlight of my Thanksgiving. Eve, our little bulldozer, slept through dinner and we were all thankful for that.
I thought it was pretty cute that Emmett proclaimed his readiness “to eat his Turkey dinner” a few times throughout the afternoon. At just 4 ½ years of age, this annual ritual that connects us to our families, friends, culture and shared history as Americans is already a part of him. Although he prefers ham and probably didn’t end up even eating any of the turkey, I took his words to express the sentiment that he gets it and he’s in when it comes to this Holiday. It’s kind of amazing to see family rituals being created for your children right before your eyes.
And also, there’s pie. Pie might be my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I like to pack the leftovers for people to take home and do the dishes before serving dessert and tea. This provides a break from eating and also means that by the time it’s “pie time” there’s not a lot of cleanup left for me to do. It means I can relax a little more and really enjoy the last of our Thanksgiving dinner.
Although desserts are some of the easiest dishes to just buy for the Holidays, I’m firmly grounded in the homemade or bust camp when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. So I was determined to make a pie even though I was streamlining when it came to the other dishes. Believe it or not I had never made a pumpkin pie before. Crazy. I cobbled the following recipe together using a few tricks that I’ve heard of over time like sauteing the pumpkin first (some people roast it) to remove some moisture and get more concentrated pumpkin flavor and pureeing the filling in a food processor for a more creamy texture. I don’t eat pumpkin pie enough to know whether or not these techniques worked but I can say that the pie was good. As in, I ate a big slice on Thanksgiving and way too much of it in the days that followed - I couldn’t help myself! I topped it off with cream cheese whipped cream, which I chose instead of regular whipped cream for both the stability (it’s pipeable and no weeping for days means you can even frost cakes with the stuff - genius, if you ask me) and because I like the tang that the cream cheese adds. I think I’ll make this again next year.
Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream
- One homemade or store bought pie crust
- one 15oz can (about 2 cups) pumpkin puree
- 3 large eggs
- 1 and 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is fine too)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup milk (any type works, I use whole milk because that’s what we have at home)
- egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
For Cream Cheese Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 ounces cream cheese (room temp)
- 3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste (I like vanilla paste because it has flecks of vanilla in it)
To make pie:
Preheat oven to 375F.
Roll out chilled pie crust and turn into pie plate. Chill in freezer while the oven preheats and you prepare your filling.
Place pumpkin in a heavy-bottomed pan over a burner set on medium heat. Stir pumpkin, allowing it to dry out a little but making sure not to burn it. Lower the heat if it is scorching. Saute about 15 minutes.
Remove chilled pie dough (in pie plate) from the freezer and brush with egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water); Cover pie dough with parchment paper and fill with beans, rice, or pie weights. Place in the oven and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
While pie dough is in the oven, combine sauteed pumpkin, 3 eggs, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth.
Pour filling into warm pie crust. Bake pie until filling is almost set about 55 minutes. Start checking at 30 minutes and cover the edges of the crust with foil if they begin to brown too much.
Once done, cool on a rack for at least three hours then cover tightly and refrigerate for 3 hours more or up to three days.
To make cream cheese whipped cream topping:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip cream cheese, vanilla and sugar together until fluffy, about 4 minutes.
In a separate bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream on medium-high until soft peaks form. Add whipped cream cheese mixture, about a tablespoon or two at a time and continue to whip on low until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
Pipe or spread onto chilled pie before serving