Martha Stewart Living (November 2013) and Bon Appétit (November 2013)
We have some fun news: We'll be interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered today, to discuss this year's big Thanksgiving trends! [UPDATE: You can now listen to the segment online! And here's the recipe for Carrot Mash with Orange and Mint.]
But first, let's back up.
When we started thinking about this year's Thanksgiving trends, there were two major themes we noticed right away. One was desserts with savory elements, like the Pear-Rosemary Pie with Cheddar Crust we wrote about last week.
The other was brûléed pumpkin pies.
Three different food magazines featured a pumpkin pie finished with a brûléed top -- that glassy, caramelized sugar crust that makes a crème brûlée so delicious. What are the odds that such a pie would show up in the pages of Martha Stewart Living, Bon Appétit, and Saveur?
We embrace the idea whole-heartedly: Who needs an excuse to use a kitchen blowtorch? Not us.
We knew we had to try one, so for our Fakesgiving, we decided to make Martha Stewart's version. More on that in a bit.
But then last week we got an unexpected and very exciting email: Would we be interested in discussing Thanksgiving trends on NPR's All Things Considered?
All Things Considered?! Of course!
That's when we decided to try out a second brûléed pie.
We set up a time to do an in-studio interview with ATC's Melissa Block (the NPR headquarters isn't far from where we work in downtown D.C.).
We baked our second brûléed pie -- we decided to try Bon Appétit's because we liked the idea of a chocolate crust -- grabbed our blowtorch, and headed on down to the studio.
We had a blast doing the interview. And we like to think we're the first people to show up for an All Things Considered interview wielding a torch.
Our segment airs this afternoon.
"Okay, okay," you're saying. "You were on the radio. Bully for you. Now tell me about these pies!"
So. The pies.
Making the crust for the Martha Stewart pie was actually one of the first things we did in terms of prep for Fakesgiving. Perhaps that's why we felt uber-ambitious and decided to stamp out pastry leaves and carve little stems and veins into each of them, which you can see in the left of the photo at the top of this page. It took a really long time. The finished product was kind of nifty looking, but not really worth the effort. Save yourself an hour and do a simple crimped edge.
The filling of the Martha pie is super simple: You essentially make a milk steeped with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla before whisking in the pumpkin puree. It smells heavenly.
When it comes to flavor, though, we found the Bon Appétit version of this pie had a lot more going on. With sour cream, bourbon and maple syrup -- plus spices like allspice and nutmeg and mace -- it's just got a lot more to it. Plus, the chocolate crust added yet another flavor contrast that was really great. We will, say, though, that our chocolate crust was far from perfect. We had trouble rolling it out large enough to cover the entire pie plate. As a result, it was patchy and a bit of a mess. But not so much of a mess that we were too embarassed to show up at NPR with it.
So what about the brûléed tops? Well, they're not quite as easy as we thought they'd be. It took time, patience and some very concerted blowtorchery.
And we didn't ever really get that super-glossy layer of glass sugar that shatters when you break into it. Ours was more of a slightly caramelized crispy texture.
Regardless, we're completely on board for the idea of a brûléed pumpkin pie, for three main reasons:
Seriously, it's so much fun to flambé your pie, and your guests will be seriously impressed. If you have a kitchen torch, use this as a great excuse to break it out. If you don't have one, well, we're not sure we'd say it's worth buying one just for this, but it is awfully cool...
Both recipes note that, of course, the brûlée top is optional. And we're sure these piese would be great even with out it.
But Thanksgiving is no time for restraint, we say. Brûlée away!
Prep: 40 minutes
Total time: 17 hours
3 cups whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
10 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved
2 large eggs
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Pumpkin-Seed Piecrust, prebaked
1/4 cup superfine sugar (optional)
Bring milk, cinnamon, vanilla-bean seeds, peppercorns, cloves, and ginger to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until milk is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Let mixture cool completely, about 2 hours. Pour through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Strained milk can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat together eggs in a bowl. Whisk inpumpkin, then granulated sugar and salt. Whisk in strained milk and pour into prebaked piecrust. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and cover edges with foil, avoiding custard. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until custard is just set in center, about 25 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 2 hours, then refrigerate, uncovered, at least 8 hours.
When ready to serve, place 2 tablespoons superfine sugar in a sieve and evenly sift over top of pie (avoid crust). Move a small kitchen blowtorch back and forth across sugar until caramelized. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, making a second caramelized layer, and serve immediately.
CHOCOLATE PIE DOUGH
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
4 large eggs
1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin purée
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground mace (optional)
¾ cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
A kitchen torch
CHOCOLATE PIE DOUGH
Pulse cocoa powder, granulated sugar, salt, and 1¼ cups plus 1 Tbsp. flour in a food processor to combine. Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Transfer to a large bowl.
Whisk egg yolk, vinegar, and ¼ cup ice water in a small bowl. Drizzle half of egg mixture over flour mixture and, using a fork, mix gently just until combined. Add remaining egg mixture and mix until dough just comes together (you will have some unincorporated pieces).
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly, and cut into quarters. Stack pieces on top of one another, placing unincorporated dry pieces of dough between layers, and press down to combine. Repeat process twice more (all pieces of dough should be incorporated at this point). Form dough into a 1”-thick disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1 hour.
DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 3 months.
FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
Roll out disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14” round. Transfer to a 9” pie dish. Lift up edge and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1” overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.
Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°. Line pie with parchment paper or heavy-duty foil, leaving a 1½” overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around the edge, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until surface of crust looks dry, 5–10 minutes. Brush bottom and sides of crust with 1 beaten egg. Return to oven and bake until dry and set, about 3 minutes longer. (Brushing crust with egg and baking will prevent a soggy crust.)
Whisk pumpkin purée, sour cream, bourbon, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, mace, if desired, and remaining 3 eggs in a large bowl; set aside.
Pour maple syrup in a small saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve pod for another use) or add vanilla extract and bring syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and small puffs of steam start to release, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add cream in 3 additions, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth. Gradually whisk hot maple cream into pumpkin mixture.
Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake pie, rotating halfway through, until set around edge but center barely jiggles, 50–60 minutes. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let pie cool.
Just before serving, sprinkle pie with sugar and, using a kitchen torch, brûlée until sugar is melted and dark brown.
DO AHEAD: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead (do not brûlée). Cover and chill.