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.
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.
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.