Now that Halloween is over, let’s agree on one simple fact: the pumpkin gets a bad rap in October.
Sure, the kids love carving scary faces into that thick orange flesh. Almost as much as they love gutting out its entire insides and flinging the slimy seeds at their siblings.
The final insult to this veggie (or is it a fruit?) takes place when the poor degraded pumpkin is plopped on the porch (for the entire month of October!) where it meets its untimely demise and literally rots in place.
How would you feel if you were a multifaceted, full of potential vegetable that thought it was destined for a much sweeter life?
Now that Halloween is in the past, let’s explore the Great Pumpkin’s real meaning for existence. Libby's has always had the pumpkin’s back (or front, or whatever). You know who I’m talking about, right? Libby's is the canned pumpkin dominatrix of the universe.
In the olden days, Libby's used evaporated milk in their recipe. And so did my mom. To be honest, I don’t use it. I just don’t like how it tastes straight out of the can. If you can’t take a delicious swig while you’re mixing up the filling, then it just isn’t worth putting in the pie.
I have a few tricks to share with you. First off, I use heavy whipping cream for the liquid. Second, I prebake (or, as the pro’s call it – blind bake) my pie crust so it isn’t all soggy when you eat it. Last, I use brown sugar instead of white. Brown sugar brings out the flavor of the pumpkin and enhances the spices.
Billie's Pumpkin Pie
For the filling:
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 15 ounce can Libby's pumpkin
For the crust:
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup Crisco All-Vegetable shortening
Crushed honey roasted pecans for garnish
Directions: Make your crust first!
Stir flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Cut the shortening and butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, fork (or your hands!) until incorporated into small pieces (about the size of a pea).
Gradually add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together and you have a smooth ball.
Cut the dough in half. NOTE: The other half will be used for the autumn leaves on the crust.
Put one half of the dough on a large sheet of waxed paper and top with a second sheet of waxed paper. Use your rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circle.
Remove the top piece of waxed paper. Place dough side down into a 9-inch deep dish pie pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Directions for the filling:
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cloves and salt in a small bowl.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually beat in the heavy whipping cream.
Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 45 minutes OR, if you want to be super creative and add autumn leaves to the crust, bake for 30 minutes and add the leaves.
Directions for the leaves:
Use a small maple leaf cookie cutter and the second half of the pie dough.
Roll out the dough and cut out the maple leaves.
Use food coloring you have in the cupboard. Mix red and yellow for the orange. You can use black food color paste with a bit of water to make the veins on the leaves.
Place the food coloring into separate bowls of red, orange, yellow and black.
Use a small paint brush and paint the colors on the leaves. NOTE: You don't have to go out and buy an artist brush, just steal one from your kids or grandkids.
Brush with egg white when done.
Once the pie has baked the additional 30 minutes, take it out of the oven.
Brush the crust with egg white (just enough for one leaf at a time) and place the leaf on the crust. Repeat until you have lined the entire crust with leaves.
Place the left over leaves on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven with the pie and bake for 15 minutes.
Let cool and sprinkle the leaves with the crushed honey roasted pecans. NOTE: If your pie splits, you can place some of the baked left over leaves on top to cover the split.
Since the crust has a bit of sugar, the leaves taste like a shortbread cookie. Pile the remainders on a plate and eat with a glass of milk. Just remember, you did all the work so you don't have to share them if you don't want to!
For more about Billie, check out her bio page.