Last year I spent Thanksgiving scrambling to harvest all my cushaw squash before our first freeze. This year we haven't had our first freeze yet, and since we had such a harsh summer, I have no squash to harvest. However, Squash 2010 was so bountiful, that I still have plenty of pureed squash in my freezer to see us through another pumpkin pie eating season!
I show you two pies, alike in dignity...
Of the Three Canonical Thanksgiving Pies, pumpkin is favored above all others by me, because I still have all this pumpkin puree in my freezer to use up. Pecan comes next, because I'm a Texan, so pecans get the "Locavore" advantage. Sorry apple.
Pie 1 is my version of Alton Brown's Bourbon Pecan Pie, from his excellent Good Eats Thanksgiving special from this year (I'm really going to miss that show). The only changes I made is that I made it in a regular pie pan and not a tart pan, since I don't have a tart pan, and I used plain toasted pecans rather than bothering with making the candied spiced pecans (though they sound delicious and I might make a batch later for Yule). It still smelled awesome baking and I'm sure it's going to taste delicious. I nibbled a bit of the pie crust made with ground pecans and bourbon, and that was really good. Alcohol makes pie crust more tender. If I remember correctly, it keeps the gluten from forming, or something like that. Anyway, it seems to have worked.
Pie 2 is Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust. I'm a little more worried about that one, since it's a recipe that's more of my own invention, heavily modified from Paula Deen's Pumpkin Pie recipe, which I attempted last year for Yule, but had some problems. I chose the recipe because I was looking for a pumpkin cheesecake recipe that didn't require one of those big springform pans, which I don't have. This one looked like it would work, but as I was mixing the filling, I realized that the recipe, as written, would not fit into my prepared standard 9-inch pie pan (despite saying in the recipe that it would), and thankfully I figured that out before I added the 1 cup of cream, so I left that part out. After the pie was made, it had a wonderful flavor, but a grainy texture, which I blamed on using previously frozen cream cheese. Apparently cream cheese doesn't like to be frozen.
This year I used cream cheese that hadn't been frozen, and mixed it up using the creaming method just like a regular cheesecake. I still ended up with extra filling, and it ran over a little as it baked. Maybe next year I will try using 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin instead of 2 cups and see if that helps.
As you can see, I also got a little paranoid about it not being done enough when the 50 minute baking time was over, so I put it in for another 10 minutes, and it cracked as it cooled. Which probably means it would have been ok at 50 minutes. I appreciate how Alton Brown gives the temperature his pie should be at when done, since custardy pies like pumpkin and pecan look like they're not done enough when you take them out, making it tempting to overcook them.
The gingersnap crust is made using 6 oz. of gingersnaps pulverized in the food processor, and then mixed with 2 tbsp. melted butter and pressed into the pie pan.
I will report back on how the pies go over at Thanksgiving Dinner. My main worry is that the pumpkin one will fall apart when we try to slice it, like the last one did. The last one turned out to be delicious pumpkin pudding, but to be a pie it needs to be firm enough to slice.