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Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 03:40 am

Pumpkin pecan pie


Here’s a solution for those who struggle with the dilemma, “Do I want pumpkin or pecan pie?” For tips on making pie pastry as well as a recipe and thoughts on the best shortenings to use, see my 10/22/08 RealCuisine column.

  • 1 unbaked deep-dish 9-inch or 10-inch pie shell
  • 1 beaten egg, 2 T. reserved for the pecan topping

For the pumpkin filling:

  • 1 c. heavy cream, 1 T. reserved for pecan topping
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 3/4 c. cooked, puréed pumpkin
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, optional

For the pecan topping:

  • 1/3 c. cane syrup or dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 1 T. reserved heavy cream
  • 2 T. reserved beaten egg
  • 1 C. broken pecan pieces, lightly toasted (325° for 5 minutes)
  • 1 C. pecan halves, lightly toasted (325° for 5 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 425°. Freeze the shell for at least 15 minutes, then gently press a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil onto the bottom and sides of the crust with as few wrinkles as possible. Fill with rice or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Pull the corners of the foil inward so they don’t tear the crust. Grab two corners of the foil in each hand and lift straight up to remove the foil. Brush the bottom and sides of the shell with egg and return to the oven. Bake 2-3 minutes longer until the egg is set.

Lower the oven temperature to 375°. Combine the pumpkin filling ingredients in a large bowl or the container of a blender or food processor and whisk thoroughly. Pour into the prepared shell, making sure to leave AT LEAST an inch of space for the pecan topping. (Extra filling can be baked in individual ramekins as for custard.) Bake for 45 minutes or until the filling has just barely set.

While the pie bakes, prepare the pecan topping. In a medium skillet, melt the butter and then stir in the syrup, brown sugar and salt. Stir over medium heat just until the mixture bubbles and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool until warm. Stir in the beaten egg. Place the pecan halves in a bowl and add 2 T. of the syrup mixture. Stir gently to coat the nuts, keeping them whole. Add the broken pecans to the skillet and mix well.

When the pumpkin filling is just barely set, remove from the oven. If the mixture in the skillet has gotten cold, warm it slightly over low heat to make it easier to spread. Gently spread the broken pecan mixture evenly over the pumpkin filling, then arrange the coated pecan halves decoratively on top. There should be enough to completely cover the top, and perhaps a few left over (the cook’s treat!). Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
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