Pumpkin pie is my favorite fall indulgence and I can always be counted on eat my fair share of it when October rolls around. But there is pumpkin pie and there is pumpkin pie, and this, my dear friends, is firmly in the latter category.
Using the tips + tricks culled from the best recipes I tried, this pumpkin pie has it all: my favorite pie crust (with some whole wheat flour for rustic heartiness), a warmly spiced pumpkin filling that’s enhanced by being cooked on the stove and the addition of molasses, and a bourbon spiked, vanilla flavored meringue that acts as whipped cream, but is toasted to almost marshmallow-y smokiness.
A slice of this pie re-affirmed everything I already knew and hold to be true: pumpkin pie is amazing. It’s unbeatable. And this pie, well, it’s as perfect as it gets.
Yield: 1 pie
Why I love this recipe: cooking the filling on the stove for a few short minutes ensures that it’ll properly solidify in the oven and be as smooth as it should be. It also warms up the spices, which, along with the molasses, add richness and depth of flavor to the pumpkin filling. Topping the pie off with a torched, bourbon spiked meringue adds smoky, caramel flavor and basically eliminates the need for whipped cream by being way, way better.
For the pie crust:
- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 stick frozen butter
- 1/2 stick cold butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 ounces water
For the filling:
- 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/3 cups evaporated milk
- 3 large eggs
For the meringue:
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons bourbon
- To make the crust, combine the flours, sugar and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers to cut in the stick of cold butter until it is the size of peas. Then cut in the frozen butter, leaving it in bigger, visible pieces.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix the water into the flour until just combined.
- If the dough seems dry, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. Press the dough together, form into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough overnight, or in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, flour the disk of dough and compact it into a little rectangle. Now, roll the rectangle into a 9″ circle and trim the edges neatly, leaving a little overhang to crimp. Transfer to pie plate.
- Crimp the edges, and transfer to freezer until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer (it will bubble a little) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Scoop cooked pumpkin filling into bowl, and whisk in evaporated milk until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Pour into prepared pie crust.
- Heat oven to 400 F. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until only the center jiggles just a drop.
- Make the meringue: Combine granulated sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites in heatproof bowl of a mixer set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer bowl to mixer, and whisk on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and bourbon. Raise speed to high, and whisk until stiff glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes more. Dollop meringue onto pie, and spread using a swirling motion.
- Hold a small handheld kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle 3 to 4 inches from surface of meringue. Move flame back and forth until meringue starts to brown.
*If you want to add decorative pie leaf cut-outs to your pie, like I did, simply use a leaf shaped cut-out to make several leaves, brush them with cream or egg yolk, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Twenty minutes before the pie is finished, carefully take the pie out of the oven and place the leaves on the filling, which will be sturdy enough to hold them up. Then, continue baking.