It was supposed to snow today in San Antonio, Texas. But it didn’t. It actually hasn’t snowed here since 1985 when I was a senior in high school. That snow storm shut the city down for at least three days. It was crazy.
So, in preparation for the snow storm—that never was—we stocked up on a few things, like firewood and stuff to make hot chocolate and made an amazing leftover meal with the fresh ham we cooked on Wednesday, along with sauerkraut and some leftover mashed potatoes and turnips. It was a perfect meal for a cold day!
And, for dessert, I promised David that I would make the pumpkin pie I never got to make him over Thanksgiving weekend. The pastry dough and the roasted sugar pie pumpkin (leftover from David’s birthday pumpkin spice cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting) were both in the freezer, so this was an easy promise to keep. And one that I, too, was looking forward to.
David has loved pumpkin pie since I met him and I never did like it. Until about three years ago when I decided to make a pumpkin pie from scratch and even roast a sugar pie pumpkin. I knew that this would make me either love pumpkin pie or give up on ever trying to like it.
And although I got a lot of sh*t from both David and Javier, the produce manager at Central Market, for going to all of the trouble of roasting my own pumpkin—they laughed at me and said “there would be no difference in taste” (compared to the bizarre canned pumpkin stuff), I did it anyway.
And it was a hit. So much so, that David said, “You must always make this pie with the real pumpkin!” Because of the meringue, this pie is light and fluffy and unlike the traditional thick, heavy pumpkin pie most people make, which is what makes this chiffon pumpkin pie so great.
And, every year since then, I have made it for him. Last year, I made it when David’s kids, Katie and Jon, spent Thanksgiving with us and everyone fell in love—even fighting over who was going to get the last piece. This year, Katie made it at Thanksgiving for her mom and brother. Needless to say, it’s become a Lent family tradition.
So, I hope that you, too, will go to the extra effort of roasting your own sugar pie pumpkin and making your own pastry dough. It’s so simple and makes such a difference. And then I hope you will also swear off that nasty pumpkin stuff that comes in a can!
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
After years of hating pumpkin pie, I decided to roast my own sugar pie pumpkins and make a chiffon pie (made with egg whites for a lighter pie) and see if I could change the way I felt America's favorite Thanksgiving dessert. This did it. It's light and fluffy unlike the dense pumpkin pie of our childhood and the freshly roasted pumpkin makes a huge difference.
- Pastry dough for pie shell
- 1 ¼ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 cups cooked pumpkin you can use either canned pumpkin, although I wish you wouldn't or roast a sugar pie pumpkin*
- 3 eggs separated
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup sugar for the egg white meringue
For the flaky pie crust
Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to a 12-14-inch round.
Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under and crimp decoratively.
Pierce dough about a dozen times with fork. Freeze 15 minutes or up to 30. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans and cook another 7-8 minutes. Cool pie shell on a rack and reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
For the pumpkin chiffon pie:
In a heavy-based saucepan, add the milk with the cornstarch (whisk to get out all the lumps—or add just a bit of milk to the cornstarch at first to create a nice paste) and set the pan over medium heat and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly. Do not let it boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool.
Keep in mind that eggs are much easier to separate when they are cold and much easier to whip into meringue when at room temperature. Crack the eggs and carefully place the yolks in a big bowl and the egg whites in the electric mixing bowl.
Put the pumpkin puree in the bowl with the egg yolks, and then add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. (Please be sure and buy fresh spices for this pie. If you can't remember the last time you bought cloves, ginger, whole nutmeg and cinnamon, throw the spices out and buy just a little bit from the bulk section.)
Add the thickened milk mixture and stir until combined.
In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until stiff peaks form.
Stir a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust and cook for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Let cool completely and serve with whipped cream. Pie is best after it’s been refrigerated for a few hours--all the flavors meld and it’s just perfect.
To make pumpkin puree: use a sugar pie pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, lie face down on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until soft, which is about 45 minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the pumpkin. Allow to cool and scoop out the flesh or just peel away the skin and voila! Freeze whatever you don’t use for future use, make cupcakes or something similar—or add it to your holiday sweet potato dish.