Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

Back at work today. There's nothing like working the day after Christmas, especially when that day happens to be a Saturday and the rest of the world is all snug and warm, with no prospects of leaving their homes. Sigh.

I did say I would post about food, so here it is. Pumpkin pie, a.k.a. the only thing my sister loves that I bake. She really loves pumpkin pie. It's funny and also touching, because I love it when people, particularly family members, enjoy what I make for them.

My cousin also likes pie, but he prefers the apple pie to the pumpkin (recipe coming tomorrow or Monday- let's be realistic, how likely is it that I'll get two recipes up in two days??). He loves apple pie, we've all discovered. Hooray for all-American desserts!

I've been using this pumpkin pie recipe for years. I love it because it has cream cheese in it and it's fairly easy to whip together. It requires a bit of fussiness (I consider separating eggs and having leftovers halves of eggs to be fussy) and the baking time seems to fluctuate rather wildly- sometimes, the required 50 minutes will do it. Other times, I have to let the thing bake for up to an hour and a half! I don't know what's causing the strange variations, but I don't mind. Easy, easy pie.

Pumpkin Pie
adapted from Paula Deen

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened to about room temperature
2 1/4 cups of canned pumpkin, mashed
1 cup sugar (I use a scant cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pie dough (this makes enough for 1 deep-dish pie)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If you make your own dough or buy dough that is sold by itself, without the aluminum pie plate, prepare the crust, pressing into the pie dish. Do what you normally would, freezing the pie crust and then par-baking it- I use frozen pie crust from the store and let it thaw out while I mix together the filling. I don't have time to be making pie crust.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, half-and-half, and melted butter (make sure the butter's not hot or it will cook the eggs). Add the egg mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat until combined.

Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, then beat one final time.

Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. I place the pie on a cookie sheet and test the center by shaking the entire cookie sheet. If the center jiggles, it's not set. The edges will set faster than the center, so make sure to check the center.

Cool on a wire rack. Cut into pieces and serve alone, or with ice cream, whipped cream, or, my sister's favorite, Cool Whip that's been frozen.

Deliciously pumpkin-y and not too heavy, even with the cream cheese. This pie will be made in my family for many more years to come, I'm sure.

Happy Boxing Day!