Normally, we try to be more precise in our baking experiments, but this time everything was a little slapdash, with ingredients and elements being added and figured out as we went along. Thankfully, this recipe is the kind that takes adaptation very well. Our pie spice was the result of just mixing in what spices we had handy. Five spice and a little black pepper took the place of the usual clove. And if you’ve got other favorite spices, you could certainly make a spice mix of your own.
Old and trusty friend, Chocnut, makes a sneaky little appearance in this pie, just to lend that unique kind of nuttiness to the smooth and spicy filling. The smoothness and lightness of this pie comes from the addition of milk and cream + the blending process. (Many recipes recommend using a strainer, but that sounds laborious. Thank goodness for modern technology.) Our crust, inspired by this Nothing-in-the-House (we love this blog) recipe, baked like a tender and flaky dream.
Of course, you can get your pumpkin filling in cans, but fresh is almost always better. If you want to make your own mash or puree, you’ve got a few options. You can boil, roast or steam. We confess, however, that we do not know exactly what kind of pumpkin or squash we used in this recipe. It’s local, simply referred to as kalabasa, found in any market or supermarket you’ll go. The good news is, this kind seems to be good for many things. When it’s not that ripe, it’s got a more vegetal taste that you can use for savory dishes. When it is ripe, then it works wonders in a pie. We promise to do some more research into the difference between pumpkin and squash and their various kinds for future baking experiments. We’ll get back to you when we know more.
For the crust:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup ice water
1 tbsp cider vinegar
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups pumpkin mash or puree
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
4 regular sized Chocnut pieces
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cream
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
1/4 tbsp five spice
For the brown butter & walnut topping:
3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Make your bottom crust. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Combine butter (cubed for easier handling) flour, salt and sugar. Work with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 of the beaten egg (keep the rest for your egg wash), ice water and cider vinegar. Mix until you can form a ball with the dough. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Roll and place in a well-greased 9-inch tart pan. Trim and crimp edges. Optional: Put aside the dough that you trim off for shaping if you want to create small butter crust pieces for your topping. Lightly brush your crust with egg. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside to cool before using.
Make your filling. Combine pumpkin, milk, cream, sugar, salt, spices and crumbled Chocnut in the blender. Blend thoroughly and set aside. Allow the mixture to rest for for at least one hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator. Beat eggs and add to the pumpkin mixture.
Bake your pie. Preheat the oven to 232°C/450°F. Pour filling into the prepared crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 176°C/350°F. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Edges should be set, but a slight jiggle in the center is okay. Cool to room temperature (or chill).
Make your brown butter and walnut topping. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Combine walnuts, flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a small skillet or pan, cook the butter over moderately high heat for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Pour the butter over the walnut mixture and toss gently until crumbly. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown. Cool. Optional: Place your smaller and shaped butter crust pieces onto a baking tray. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Have a slice. Sprinkle your walnut topping straight over your pie or with some ice cream.
Leftover filling? That just means crustless kalabasa goodies.