Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Creamy Pumpkin Pie (and Baby update)

I meant to post this pie before Thanksgiving, but things got a little crazy and it never happened. So, I am posting it now.
   My son's favorite pie is pumpkin pie. He takes after me when I was his age, and loves it as much or more than most desserts. For my 8th birthday I asked if I could have a pumpkin pie instead of a cake. So, of course my awesome parents complied and made me that pie. :) Well, it goes without saying that during the holidays, pumpkin pie will always be found in my kitchen. The recipes might vary (like this Chocolate Pumpkin Pie) but there is always some version around. Well, this year I thought I would try Paula Deen's recipe for Pumpkin Pie. It's like a cross between a traditional pumpkin pie and a pumpkin cheesecake. I tweaked it just slightly, and made two of these this year. They were a hit! A great recipe that I will use again and again in my pumpkin pie rotation.
   Before I get to the recipe, I wanted to give you all an update on the baby. She was delivered this last Sunday, December 7th. We came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon and we are recovering well. Thankfully I have an amazing women's church organization (Relief Society) that has offered to bring dinners for me and my family for the next few nights so I don't have to worry about that. We are really blessed. So, even though I will be taking a break from the kitchen for a little bit while I heal up, I can't ever stop thinking about food. :) I do have some posts (like this one) that I started before the baby came but never finished. And if I find a rare moment to myself, like now, then I will post those recipes for you. But we will see how things go.
   OK, so back to the recipe:

It starts with a block of softened cream cheese.

Then you need some pumpkin. Paula's recipe says to use a can, but I had fresh in my freezer so that is what I used. (If you use fresh pumpkin then the pie will be lighter in color. If you use the canned, it will be darker/more orange.) Also, if you use fresh pumpkin, you will need to put it into a fine mesh sieve/strainer and let it drain some of the excess water out of it. Otherwise it will take a really long time to cook your watery pie. I usually drain my frozen/thawed pumpkin for at least 1 hour before making the pie, and it releases about 3/4 cup of water.

The cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin go into a mixing bowl. (Mix the cream cheese by itself first so that you get out any lumps.)
Then add in the spices. I used Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice because I like it, but you are more than welcome to use the separate spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg) to suit your own tastes.

The eggs, half and half, vanilla, and butter are whisked together and added in to the cream cheese mixture.

When it's a homogenous mixture, then the filling is poured into a 9 inch pie shell. (I often use the Marie Callender's frozen pie shell.) I like to pre-bake my crust a little, to make sure that it doesn't get soggy, but that is optional.

The pie bakes for almost an hour. It's done when the top looks set, but the center slightly giggles when you move the pie.

Let the pie sit and set up at room temperature, and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  After it's cool it slices beautifully.

A dollop (or more) of whipped cream is all that's needed.

See what I mean about the color? It's not the traditional orange, because I used fresh pumpkin instead of canned. Incidentally, I was once told that to make the best pumpkin pie you should use butternut squash instead of pumpkin! Definitely works and gives you that orange color too.

I made one pie for the guys at the fire station, for their Thanksgiving feast (the hubby had to work the holiday) and another one for us at home. Needless to say, my son made sure that the one at home didn't last long. :)
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Paula Deen's Pumpkin Pie

 Creamy Pumpkin Pie
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups pureed pumpkin (drained if using fresh)
1 cup sugar
*1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter (*if using salted butter, then omit the 1/4 tsp salt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 9 inch pie crust shell

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

  Pre-bake the pie crust for 10 minutes, (either prick the crust with a fork first, or use pie weights to prevent the crust from bubbling up) or until the crust is dried out and beginning to color. Take out the crust and set aside.  Turn the heat down to 350F    
  For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin, sugar, and salt, and beat until combined. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, half-and-half, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the cream cheese mixture and mix to combine.
   Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the pie looks set, but the center barely giggles when you move the pie.  Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 4 hours. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream (optional).

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