07 October 2010

Pumpkin Pie w/ Chocolate Crumb Crust

Most people have only had store bought pumpkin pie and in general they're pretty terrible, especially nowadays. What you normally get is gross orange-red, over sweetened, over spiced garbage, with a texture kin to Jello. And unfortunately, pumpkin is one of those pies such that if you're first experience is a bad one you're tainted for life. I’ve got nothing against purchasing your pies, pumpkin or otherwise, but if you do (as I will be this weekend) get it from a Farmer’s Market or a farm near by. I’m picking up my pies at the wonderful Downey’s Farm. If you’re not lucky enough to have something like this near by, I feel for you.

Pumpkin pie is the pie I have made the most. I’ve done it with pastry crusts varying from terrible to less terrible and graham cracker crusts. I think it’s the recipe I play with a lot because its my favourite, I find store bought one’s repulsive, and as far as pies go, it’s actually on the healthier end (that doesn’t make it “healthy” by the way :) ). Top all that off with the fact that you can make the filling without cutting, sprinkling, or separating any ingredients and you have a winning combination. Ah but here's the rub, unlike previous pumpkin pie ventures this was the first I was doing with fresh puree and also my first paired with chocolate. I've read that chocolate and pumpkin work well together so I figured I would try it out with chocolate crumb crust.

Truth told I really didn't enjoy the chocolate and pumpkin pairing. But this might have been for one of two reasons, either the chocolate was too strong or the pumpkin was too weak. Unfortunately, the pumpkin puree was a bit disappointing. The flavour of the pumpkin didn't come through as much as I wanted. However, these are the risks when you use fresh ingredients, just ask anyone that makes tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. Regardless, the filling was excellent and I think it's a testament to my recipe that you could still taste the pumpkin through the spices even though the puree's flavour was muted.

The one really annoying thing? Apparently my rant about pastry crust the other day upset chocolate crumb crust (they’re probably friends). As a result, I actually managed to singe the thing, at least it tasted (and smelled) that way to me. If you asked my parents they would tell you I was wrong. Granted these are people who want me to slightly burn peanut butter cookies because they like it better (horrible, I know). However, my brother agreed with me, but added that it wasn't bad, he actually kind of liked it. At that point I was just happy I wasn't crazy (crazier). I suspect that the reason the crust came out a little burnt was that I decided to bake on the bottom rack for 10-15 minutes as I would a pastry crust, and then bake for 35 minutes on the middle rack. I have no idea why I did this, it's not what I would normally do with a pre-baked graham cracker crust. Somehow I also managed to not press the crust entirely up the pan resulting in the filing being higher than the crust. This lead to some slight burning (maybe we'll call it “caramelization”) around the edges. C'est la vie.

I honestly can't see myself changing this recipe for some time. I really enjoy this filling. It's the opposite of everything I hate about store bought pie and I'm quite happy with it. My pumpkin pie has even managed to convert a few that would normally say “Pumpkin Pie? Bleh”

~ Adam

Pumpkin Pie w/ Chocolate Crumb Crust

Adapted from Canadian Living

Chocolate Crumb Crust:
1 ¼ cup Chocolate Cookie Crumbs (135g – I use Oreo)
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (57g)

1 ¾ cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling--420mL)
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp dark brown sugar, packed (75g)
¼ cup golden yellow sugar, packed (60g)
¾ cup 2% evaporated milk (180mL)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium bowl mix chocolate crumbs with butter and stir together with a fork, make sure to fully incorporate the butter until all the crumbs appear to be damp.

Press crumbs on the bottom and up the sides of a 9” pie plate.

Set crust in centre rack of the oven for 7 minutes (if you want a more crispy crust, lower the temperature a bit and increase the bake time).

Remove crust from oven and allow to cool. (If you want the crust to be softer, chill for 20 to 40 minutes before filling).

Increase oven temperature to 425F

In a large bowl add pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs and evaporated milk stirring thoroughly between each addition.

Sift pumpkin pie spice into mixture and add salt and vanilla into mixture, making sure to combine completely between addition.

Pour filling into crust and set in oven on centre rack for 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 350F and bake for additional 25 – 30 minutes (mine took 28) or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.

Remove pie from oven and allow to completely cool on rack. Serve at room temperature (bleh) or chill in fridge for a few hours first (mmm mmm good).

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