Last month, my family celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving, which falls on the first Monday of October, almost two months before the American holiday. We indulged in a delicious meal of stuffed turkey, cranberry chutney, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, and green beans. As delectable as all that was, in our family, the favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the pumpkin pie we make for dessert.
When I was a young housewife, I used the recipe that was printed on the label of the can of pumpkin puree. It was tasty enough. One year, however, my sister found a recipe that produced, by far, the best pumpkin pie we’d ever eaten. It was spicy, rich and creamy, yet light enough to not overwhelm after a heavy meal. Its creaminess is due to a secret ingredient.
My daughter, who married last year, has made the pie frequently for various potlucks and dinners, always receiving rave reviews about its creaminess. It was not until we were baking it together last week that we realized a mix-up in her reading of the recipe resulted in an even better pumpkin pie. The confusion was about the amount of the secret ingredient.
“Why did you cut the cream cheese slab in half?” she asked as we were prepping our ingredients.
“Because we only need four ounces, not eight.”
Perplexed, she checked the cream cheese wrapper, then the recipe. Mild surprise reflected in her eyes, then she smiled.
“No wonder my pumpkin pie is so extra creamy.”
Among all that I am thankful for (and there’s a lot!), is the fact that my daughter misread a recipe.
Creamy Pumpkin Pie
1½ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
1 can pumpkin puree (14 oz) not pumpkin-pie filling
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened (8 oz)
½ cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp each cinnamon and vanilla
½ tsp each ground ginger, nutmeg and salt
Sugar to taste
In bowl, mix flour with salt. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is in fine crumbs with a few larger pieces. In liquid measure, beat egg yolk with lemon juice, mix in enough ice water to make ⅓ cup. Drizzle over dry ingredients, stirring briskly with fork to form ragged dough. Press into disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to ⅛-inch thickness. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge to leave ¾-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and flute edge. Prick with a fork.
Line the pastry shell with foil; fill evenly with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in bottom third of 375 F oven for 15 minutes; remove weights and foil. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes longer or until pastry just starts to turn golden.
Meanwhile in food processor or blender, puree together pumpkin, sugar, cream cheese, whipping cream, eggs, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Pour into pie shell; bake in bottom third of 350 F oven for 1 hour or until set around edge and slightly jiggly in center. Let cool on rack.
(Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours)
Whip cream with sugar to taste. Pipe or spoon on top of pie before serving.==========================
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Lucy Arlington is an avid reader, cook, and gardener. If she had her way, she'd divide her time between preparing delectables in her kitchen, traveling the globe on her scooter, and sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee and a paperback until her legs cramped. Lucy is devoted to her husband and children - especially when they ply her with chocolate and gift cards to bookstores. Lucy’s first cozy mystery, set in a North Carolina literary agency called A Novel Idea, will debut late 2011.