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My Gift to You

I love pumpkin pie. I can and do eat it for breakfast after it has matured nicely. I could make a new pie each week if there is excuse enough for it. I tell you because this year my ‘gift’ to you is the recipe I found last year and decided it was, hands down, the best recipe I had ever made. This is not an idle statement on my part – I’ve tested more recipes for pumpkin pie than most folks have ever made. I’ve made pie from squash I’ve cooked myself, pie with nut crusts and pies where I’ve been convinced it would be amazing only to be sadly disappointed.

One word of caution; if you like pumpkin pie then you’re likely to find this highly addictive. I’ve made it both with and without the brandy – both are excellent. If you leave out the brandy my suggestion is vanilla extract and a bit of orange zest. My sincere thanks to Julia Moskin & Melissa Clark of the New York Times. This can be found in the November 12, 2013 edition of the Times, in the Essential Thanksgiving section.

Without further delay here’s the recipe:

Brandied Pumpkin Pie

You can make this pie with canned pumpkin if you’re in a hurry. But if you’ve got time, homemade roasted butternut squash purée will give you a fresher, sweeter and more distinct flavor.

Time About 2 hours, plus 1 1/2 hours’ chilling

Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (150 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably a high-fat European style, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  • For the filling
  • 1 3/4 cups squash or pumpkin purée (see note)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (153 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (4 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (3 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (3 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground clove

Preparation

  1. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms chickpea-size pieces. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist, but not wet. On a lightly floured surface, gather the dough into a ball. Flatten into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork. Chill crust for 30 minutes.
  3. While the dough chills, heat oven to 375 degrees. Line chilled crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool on rack until needed.
  4. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, eggs, cream, dark brown sugar, brandy, ginger, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the nutmeg and clove. Pour mixture into the cooled pie shell. Transfer pie to a large baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden and center jiggles just slightly when shaken, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
  1. Note: To make butternut squash purée, peel, halve and seed a 2 1/2- to 3-pound squash and cut flesh into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Coat with melted butter or oil and roast at 400 degrees, stirring once or twice, until the squash is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool, then purée in a food processor.

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