When I was a child, I thought pumpkin was as an exotic vegetable and therefore everything made with pumpkin was nothing short of extraordinary. Back in the 60’s and 70’s in California, pumpkins were exotic because sugar pumpkins were not sold at the grocery, only Jack-O’Lantern pumpkins. As a result, pumpkin pie was my favorite pie of all with its sweet winter squash flavor and warm spices.
I collected pumpkin pie recipes like some men and women collect shoes. This recipe is a combination of two pumpkin pie recipes, one for the crust and the other for the pumpkin filling. For the crust, I am using Alton Brown’s gingersnap cookie crust from his pumpkin pie recipe. Beautiful and decorative pie crusts are wonderful to look at, but if you want to get anything else done the day you make a pie, scaling down the prep work is essential. Gingersnap cookie crust pops with bright molasses and ginger and is a breeze to make. This gingersnap cookie crust really jazzes up the flavor of pumpkin pie.
For the pumpkin filling, I adapted an old recipe from, Bon Appetit Magazine, by Selma Brown Morrow, The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie. The pie crust is sweet, decorative and temperamental which is why I nixed it. However, the filling is silky and rich from sour cream with deep pumpkin flavor. My primary changes for the pumpkin filling are with the spices. I went all out with the spice blend and reduced the amount of cinnamon and added in some freshly grated nutmeg and ground clove. I kept remembering what I like so much in my pumpkin bread and realized it was how the ground clove lingered in the background boosting up the flavors of the other spices.
Easy Holiday Baking
For big holiday menus with almost as many dishes as there are guests, it is reassuring to know there is at least one course that requires a minimum of your attention. Even better, you can make this pie 24 hours in advance. I highly recommend that you do. This gives the pie plenty of time to set, chill and the flavors to meld. Plus, this is a hassle-free crust. All you need to do is pulverize the cookies in a food processor and add melted butter. No cracking, no chilling, or shrinking, just press into a glass pie plate and blind bake for 10 minutes.
While the cookie crust cools you then can mix the pumpkin filling by hand, then pour into the par-baked crust and bake. The hardest thing to do after making this pie is waiting for it to cool. Like most custards, the pie is removed from the oven just before it is completely set. You cannot cut into the pie until it is completely cool. This will take at least 3 hours. I recommend making it the day before and you will not have to worry about timing it just right. Store the pie in the refrigerator until just before serving.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Pumpkin pie filling is essentially a custard, but fortunately for this recipe, there is no need to cook the eggs and cream before adding them into the pumpkin purée. To help thicken up the custard, a small amount of cornstarch is added but you really do not notice it. Sour cream also helps lightens and enriches the pumpkin filling but it does not leave a tangy taste in your mouth. Instead, it helps create the silky smooth texture.
The trick to determining if your pie is done is to perform the jiggle test. Your custard is done baking when you gently jiggle the pie plate and the filling wobbles like Jello. Plus the middle does not look wet and runny. Cooking times can vary depending on your type of pie plate and how consistent your oven temperature is. Therefore, I recommend starting to check your pie 10 minutes before the projected finish time in the recipe. You know you overcooked the custard if there is a crack in the custard filling. Have not worries if it cracks, it will still taste delicous and you can always cover the crack with whippped cream.
You can also make this pie with other winter squash, especially Kabocha squash. Check out my Kabocha Coconut Curry Soup recipe to learn more about this delicious winter squash.
Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Cookie Crust
What is like about this combination is the gingersnap cookie crust is effortless and comes together in about 6 minutes. This is great for the moments when you need to put your efforts into the other parts of the meal but still get a delicious dessert.
The pumpkin filling is creamy and rich with fresh nutmeg and ground ginger as the forward spices in the pie. I love freshly ground nutmeg and wanted to feature that spice with the pumpkin. If you own a fine Microplane grater, use that to grate the nutmeg.
If you do not own a food processor, you can still easily make this recipe. See the notes for directions.
This pie can be made 24 hours in advance and stored in your refrigerator until serving.
Serve chilled and with whipped cream.
Gingersnap Cookie Pie Crust
- 6 oz (171 g) gingersnap cookies
- 1 TB (16 g) dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp (2 g ground ginger
- 1 oz (31 g) unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup (164 g) sugar
- 1 TB (13 g) packed brown sugar
- 1 TB (8 g) cornstarch
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- 1 - 15 oz (425 g) can solid pack pumpkin
- ¾ cup (200 ml) heavy cream
- ½ cup (104 g) sour cream
- 3 large eggs
For the crust
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C / Gas Mark 4)
Add the gingersnap cookies, brown sugar, and ground ginger to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cookies become fine crumbs. Drizzle the melted butter into the finely ground cookie crumbs. Pulse several times, about 8-10 to combine.
Tip the gingersnap cookie mixture into a 9-inch glass pie pan. Press the cookie mixture across the bottom and up the sides of a dish. If you own a metal pie pan, press it into your glass pan with the cookie crust to help form the shape your cookie pie crust. Press up the sides and into the crevasse of your pie to make an even thickness all the way around and across the bottom of the pie.
Place the pie plate on a rimmed sheet pan then into your preheated oven. Bake for 10 -12 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes. Turn down the oven to 325°F (160°C / Gas Mark 3).
In a small bowl, blend the 3 eggs with a fork until evenly combined and no visible egg whites are showing. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt until no clumps are visible. If you need, get your clean hands in there to break up the brown sugar lumps.
Stir in the pumpkin, heavy cream, sour cream and beaten eggs until blended.
Pour the pumpkin filling into a pitcher, or anything large enough to hold the pumpkin filling and has a spout. Place the rimmed sheet pan with the pie crust back into the oven, on the middle rack. Extend the rack for easy access and pour the filling into the center of the pie plate. Fill the pie crust to just at the edge of the rim and no more. You will have extra filling, which you can use later. Carefully slide the rack into the oven and bake the pie until it is just set about 55 minutes. Start checking if your pie is done, after 45 minutes to make sure you do not over bake your custard. You can tell the pie is done when you jiggle the pie plate and the filling wobbles like jello and it does not look wet in the center.
If the pie cracks, it means it is overcooked. No worries though it will still taste great, and you can cover the crack with whipped cream if you want to.
Cool the pie completely before cutting and serving. Refrigerate the pie once cooled slightly and up to 24 hours ahead. Serve with whipped cream.
Keep leftovers in the refrigerator.
Can be made one day ahead.
If you do not own a food processor you can still make with pie crust. All you need is a Ziplock bag and a rolling pin or mallet, like a meat mallet. Fill a Ziplock bag with the gingersnaps and partially close the bag. Push out as much air as possible then zip the bag closed. Lag the bag filled with cookies on a flat surface and whack the side of the bag with your mallet, gently hitting and crushing your cookies. Keep banging away until the cookies resemble a fine sand.
Add the crumbs to a large bowl then add the melted butter and ground ginger. Stir to combine. Proceed with the recipe at step 3 of the cookie crust.
Leftover pie filling:
Pour leftover pie filling into buttered ramekins. If you want, coat the inside of your ramekins with ground gingersnaps or ground nuts like hazelnuts or pecans. Place the filled ramekins in a baking dish and fill with warm water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake in a 325°F (160°C) oven until set in the middle, but jiggles, about 30 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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