Two Slam Dunk Pumpkin Pies

Our friend and TofC contributor Leela Cyd is not only a photographer and cook extraordinaire, but also finds the time to write and photograph stories for The Kitchn and Re-Nest. Here she share's her favorite pumpkin pie made by her father.

We've also included a pumpkin pie recipe favored by Virginia Miller, the mother of TofC co-creator, Danielle Rubi-Dentzel! Loving all the family faves during the month of Thanksgiving. Feel free to write us and tell us some of your top TG family recipes.

Family Recipe: My Dad's Legendary Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
written and photographed by Leela Cyd

2011_11_12-pumpkin07.jpgI have a confession: Trying new recipes for Thanksgiving is not my thing. In fact, when the time comes to prep my dad's legendary pumpkin chiffon pie, nothing delights me more than the same old same old. 

There are certain dishes that pull so hard at our heartstrings, the secrets to conjure the foods that define us and our family traditions, they nearly barrel us over with love. This pie is one of those dishes, a dessert that signifies togetherness. Do you have one of these recipe narratives in your life? What's your family's signature dish?

2011_11_12-pumpkin04.jpgMy dad, Richard, first encountered this recipe while shooting a Thanksgiving spread for Saveur magazine, over a decade ago. He's a photographer as well, although I didn't know this part of the recipe origin story until this year. Known for his images of museums, historic spaces throughout the world and most recently, a body of work addressing incarcerated juveniles, food was about the farthest thing from his repertoire. He shot the pie and accompanying Thanksgiving meal in New York anyway, typifying his photo motto of "Say 'Yes' then figure it out later." He also tasted the pie that would define our family's Thanksgiving meals for years to come.

2011_11_12-pumpkin06.jpgWhat's so great about this pie? To put it simply, it's ruined me for every other pumpkin pie out there. I can't eat any pumpkin related confection because it just makes me wish for my dad's pie. 

You know the hallmark traits of some traditional recipes for pumpkin pie? High density, low flavor filling met by a pasty white crust? This version trumps tradition with its impossibly light 'chiffon' (just saying the word makes me feel buoyant!) texture throughout the lightly spiced filling and the shattering crusty, vanilla sweetness of a Nilla wafer crust. This pie, it's poetry. 

2011_11_12-pumpkin05.jpgI know I'm being challenging when I declare this pie the best, and probably you have your own dearest pumpkin pie recipe, but Thanksgiving calls for bold statements and it calls for family favorites. If you're looking to change it up this year, throw this recipe into your mix. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the light, mousse–like filling and the strong vanilla crust.

Dad's Legendary Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
adapted from Saveur
makes 2 pies
For the crust:
4 cups crushed Nilla wafer cookies (a rough texture with unevenly sized pieces is fine)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the pie filling:
3 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup Cointreau or Drambuie
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup sugar, divided
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
Fresh whipped cream, to serve
Prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter, sugar and salt. Press mixture firmly into 2 9-inch pie pans (if you have any extra mixture left over, you can press this into muffin tins with great results).
Bake for 10 minutes, and cool on a wire rack.
Make the filling:
In a small bowl sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over 1/4 cup Cointreau to soften for 5 minutes. Set the mixture over a bowl of hot water and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
In a heavy saucepan whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream and 1/2 cup of sugar, 3 egg yolks, the cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt and cook the mixture over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula for 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the gelatin mixture, and let the mixture cool.
In a large bowl beat 4 egg whites until they hold soft peaks (see this video for a clear idea of what you're looking for). Beat in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating the meringue until it holds stiff peaks, and fold this meringue into the partially cooled pumpkin mixture.
Pour the filling into the baked shells and chill the pie, lightly covered, for at least 6 hours. Garnish with plenty of fresh whipped cream.


My Mom's Favorite Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream
adapted from Bobby Flay

Virginia Miller says, " I made this pie last year, and it was the best one yet"...and that's coming from a very critical Thanksgiving household who loves the best of everything! (sorry no photos of this one but I'm sure you know what it looks like! ) 

1 (9-inch) pie, plus leftover filling


Graham Cracker Crust:

    * 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
    * 6 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly warm
    * 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    * 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pumpkin filling:

    * 2 whole eggs
    * 2 egg yolks
    * 1/4 dark brown sugar
    * 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    * 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
    * 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
    * 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    * 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    * 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    * 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    * 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    * 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
    * 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved

Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream:

    * 1 1/4 cups very cold heavy cream
    * 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved
    * 2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
    * 1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon (to your taste)

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add all the ingredients for the crust to a food processor and pulse until combined; it should feel like wet sand, and just come together.

Spread the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie pan, using your finger tips or the flat bottom of a glass. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and sides of the pan.

Put the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the crust is light brown and firm to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the filling:  Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugars in a large bowl. Add the butter, pumpkin, cream, spices, salt and vanilla seeds and whisk to combine. Strain (important) the mixture into a bowl.

Pour the strained mixture into the baked pie crust and bake until almost set, about 1 1/2 hours. 
Remove and let come to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, if preferred.

Cook's Note: The filling makes more than what is needed to fill the pie shell. You are able to freeze the excess. We made a double batch and it filled 3 pie shells very comfortably.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, vanilla seeds, syrup and bourbon in a large chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

Garnish each piece of pie with a dollop of the whipped cream before serving.

1 comment :

  1. As a person that loves the traditions of Thanksgiving but is not a fan of the leaden pumpkin pie- I loved this story. Ironically I just finished making a pumpkin mousse "trifle" for a friends foodie Tday today. So much more divine.


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