Pecan-Crusted Pumpkin Pie

Pecan-Crusted Pumpkin Pie

Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Uh, aren’t you a little late? No one cares about pumpkin pie anymore.” I get it. Thanksgiving was last week, and everyone’s had their fill of creamy pumpkin deliciousness.

Or so you think.

I’m bucking tradition. No pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving? Who says that’s a rule? Pumpkin pie deserves a permanent spot in winter’s rotation of seasonal standbys. It translates wonderfully into the holiday season with its spiced, comforting filling. Plus, its primary ingredient is a vegetable, so its totally fine to have it as a meal on its own. Genius, right? Pumpkin pie and coffee just might be the breakfast of champions.

Truth be told, the real reason this post is arriving just shy of Thanksgiving is because I was just too busy. When you have a packed schedule and you travel to visit family for the holiday, it can be hard to squeeze in some solid pie-making time. But M.’s birthday was a couple weeks ago and, as pumpkin pie is pretty much his favorite dessert ever, I’d promised to make one anyway. So I’m late on all counts – but hey, at least I came through in the end. And in a pretty awesome way.

Like most things I make, I wanted to balance health and flavor. I got rid of the cream and butter that can dominate so many pumpkin pie recipes and tried to cut back on sugar and carbs while still keeping that creamy, rich flavor we all love. I think the result is pretty spot on.

For one, this crust makes me so happy. I wanted to use something made of nuts – which pair so wonderfully with pumpkin pie – to add some natural flavor and get away from the classic heavy crust. And I was able to combine them with just a touch of butter by browning it to really stretch the flavor. Mmm, brown butter is a glorious thing. It’s nutty yet rich, and always always adds a layer of depth. So good.

Pie crusts can be tricky (for many reasons), but a great trick is to use an egg-white wash when par-baking it – especially for a crumbly crust like this one. Just brush a thin layer of egg whites over the top – it’ll help keep it intact and prevent sogginess over time. Works like a dream.

M. and I have been snitching small slivers for days now. Every time I go back in for just another quick bite, I notice he’s done the same. Pie is up there among my favorites to make, and I suppose that’s one of the reasons why – its so comforting. You can’t help but snitch. Especially when it tastes like this.

Brown Butter Pecan Crust

2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup whole pecans
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

egg wash

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. The butter will gradually start to melt and begin to bubble and foam. Soon, the foam will begin to subside and you’ll notice the butter’s milk solids begin to brown. It should smell rich and nutty. Once the butter turns amber-brown, remove it from the heat.

Finely chop pecans in food processor until it’s mealy. Add sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and mix to combine. Drizzle in brown butter and pulse until it just starts to come together.

Dump crust into pie pan and press until its uniform. Gently brush with egg wash and bake 5-10 minutes, until slightly firm and brown.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 can)
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (or 1 12oz can) (regular or 2%)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place both sugars in a bowl. Add spices and lemon zest and rub into sugar to release the zest’s oils and combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Add to sugars and whisk. Finally, add pumpkin puree and evaporated milk and whisk once more until everything is incorporated and creamy.

Pour filling into par-baked shell. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then turn oven back to 350°F and bake for another 45-50 minutes, until pie is set and slightly browned on top.