Pumpkin Creme Pie with Maple Molasses Roasted Pecans

First off, I'm sorry for falling off the face of the earth for the past month and a bit. I started interning at a hotel in the morning before school and on the weekends, so I work 13 hours days sometimes and usually only have one day off. And to be honest, I'm not that keen on baking for 6 hours on my day off when I do it for 13 hours on my work days. But, finally, here is something I did make on my day off.

I made this for a friend for Canadian Thanksgiving (Mid-October) and I enjoyed making a very festive dessert. This would be great for American Thanksgiving or even Christmas. Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you're in heaven. This pie is a little lighter in texture than a traditional pumpkin pie and has a more delicate flavour. 

 This recipe calls for roasting your own pumpkin! It's not difficult at all and the taste is way better, so I recommend doing this. Make sure you get Sugar Pie pumpkin, which is specifically bred for pie-making. Not just any old pumpkin will do, unfortunately. If you can't find a Sugar Pie pumpkin, good old canned puree makes a good pie, too.

I will admit that it's a bit of work making this pie from start to finish. It takes a good chunk out of your day, so plan accordingly. However, the result makes it all worth it. Making something completely from scratch is a rewarding experience, trust me. You don't always have to take the easy route. 

I can't promise many more posts in the future, as my schedule will only be getting busier until I graduate at the end of December. After that, I have no idea. I hope to land a job in a hotel, but you never know. 

I wouldn't mind a bit of down-time, but unfortunately, that's not a common thing in the food industry. 12 hour shifts are the rule rather than the exception. But you know what? It's not so bad when you love what you do. I used to dread 5-hour shifts as a waitress, but I look forward to my long days of work and school. I'm learning at an incredible pace and I just want to learn more. There's always something that I don't know and that is a really exciting thought to me. 

While my social life is suffering, I know it's temporary. I haven't seen my girl friends in about a month and I only get to see my boyfriend for an couple hours each week. But he understands that I'm pursuing my dream and does nothing but support me. In turn, I support him in his amazing music-making efforts. 

Music is his passion, as pastry is mine. He always has been incredible, even since I sat on the edge of his bed and he played me a song he wrote for me. Somehow, he has become even better in the past two years that I've known him and I can't express how proud of him I am. Not only is he an amazing photographer, song-writer, singer, guitarist, actor, and writer, but he is the one thing keeping me sane in my crazy hectic life. He recently recorded a cover song and I think it'd be awesome if you guys took a peek at it, just click here. It's the least I can do for everything he's done for me.

Pumpkin Creme Pie with Maple Molasses Roasted Pecans
Recipe from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Pie Dough

1 1/3 cups (175 g) pastry flour
1/3 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, freezer cold
1/4 cup (57 g) ice-cold water
1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Pumpkin Creme Anglaise Filling

1 Sugar Pie pumpkin, about 2 1/4 pounds
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cup (400 g) pumpkin puree

3/4 cup (165 g) whole milk
1/2 cup (115 g) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground/fresh grated ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (134 g) packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Maple Molasses Roasted Pecans

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
8 ounces (225 g) pecan halves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the pie crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in an electric mixer. Add the cold butter and shortening and mix on low speed until the mixture look shaggy and the pieces of butter are slightly smaller than peas. Stop the mixer and check the size of the butter, sifting through the mixture with your hands. If you find bigger chunks, smear them between your fingers.

Put the ice-cold water and vinegar into a measuring cup and stir to combine. Add the water-vinegar  to the flour-fat mixture on low speed and mix briefly with a few rotations of the paddle, but do not let the dough come together.

Turn off the mixture and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer to make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients. Squeeze a small amount of dough in your hand. The dough should come together in a clump. If it’s too dry, add a little more water a few teaspoons at a time. 

Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a flat circle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8th inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie tin and gently press the dough into the sides of the pan. Trim the excess dough to a 3/4th to 1 inch overhang. Fold the overhand up and over towards the inside of the pan and use your hands to gently press on the dough all around the circumference to form a neat pastry rim about 1/2 inch thick. Create your desired border. Use the trimmed dough to create pastry leaves or whatever decoration you wish.

Chill the dough for 15 to 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the pastry-lined pie tin with a piece of parchment and fill it with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake until the bottom of the dough is baked through but not browned, 55 to 60 minutes. This seems like a long time to blind-bake this pie shell, especially since the pie will be baked after it is filled, but don’t worry. The second baking temperature is low enough that you won’t have to worry about your crust browning.

Remove the pie shell from the oven and remove the parhcment, beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake the shell for a further 15 minutes to create an even golden brown colour. Remove the pie shell from the oven and let cool completely.

For the filling, if you are roasting your own pumpkin (which I highly recommend), preheat your oven to 400 F. Use a large heavy knife to quarter the pumpkin, then scrape out and discard all the fibers and seeds. Cut the pumpkin quarters in half crosswise to yield 8 pieces of pumpkin. Put the pumpkin pieces in a baking dish and toss with oil and salt. Arrange the pieces rind sides down, cover the pan with foil, and use the tip of a knife to cut a few small steam vents in the foil. Put the pan in the oven and roast until the pumpkin feels quite tender when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about an hour. Remove the foil and continue to roast until the pumpkin is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely. Use a paring knife to peel off and discard the skins. Put the pumpkin flesh in a container of a blender and puree until smooth. You should have about 1 3/4 cup (400 g) of pumpkin puree. Set aside.

Reduce the oven to 300 F.

Combine the milk and cream in a heavy saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place the scrapings and pod in the milk. In a separate bowl, add the yolks, spices, salt, and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Whisk until slightly paler in color. Put the saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove the lid from the saucepan and bring back to just a boil. Add a ladle of the hot milk mixture to the yolks, whisking vigorously. Add the warmed yolk mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour the creme anglaise through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl.

Pour the creme anglaise into the blender (that still has the pumpkin puree in it). Add the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the whole eggs, and the vanilla extract. Blend on high speed for 1 full minute. Turn off the blender and use a spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom to make sure everything is mixed enough. Blend for a few more seconds if necessary.

Leave the pumpkin custard in the blender and allow the mixture to rest and allow any bubbles to rise to the top, about 15 minutes. Use a small ladle to skim off and discard any bubbles.

Pour the pumpkin filling into the pastry shell and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the custard and set, about 1 hour. When the pie is done, the custard should jiggle just slightly when you shake the pan gently.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.

While the pie is cooling, make the pecans. Increase the oven temperature to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment sprayed with vegetable oil spray or use a silicon baking mat.

Combine the honey, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl. Add the pecans and toss to combine well. Spread the pecans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring the nuts with a rubber spatula halfway through the baking time. Remove the pecans from the oven and pour them into the bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then spread the pecans on a clean baking sheet lined with parchment to cool.

Serve the pumpkin creme pie with a few pecans sprinkled on top and whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

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