Yesterday was our annual Thanksgiving dinner with our friends - Friendsgiving as it's been dubbed by some. I've lost count of how many years we've all been getting together and enjoying this meal but it's got to be at least six or seven now, which is so unbelievable to me! It's a potluck style meal and every year there are at least 20 of us in attendance (I think it was closer to 25 this year). Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, tons of veggies, mac & cheese, pies, cupcakes - you name it, it's probably on the table at Friendsgiving.
The first few years we attended Shane and I were on mashed potato duty, mostly because that's about all we knew how to cook at the time :) As we've gotten more comfortable in the kitchen over the years, we've branched out and done appetizers, stuffing, side dishes and tons of desserts. This year we shared this bacon-jalapeño cheese ball, a sweet potato casserole (it was good, but needs some tweaks before I blog it) and also this pumpkin pie with brown-sugar walnut topping.
I've never actually made your basic pumpkin pie if you can believe it. There have been some variations on the theme in years past, but I guess plain pumpkin pie always just seems a little boring to me. I know it's a favorite of many others though, so I tried not to stray too far when looking for a recipe. This one is fun because at its base it's traditional but then a brown sugar-walnut topping is added to jazz things up just a little bit. It does make the pie pretty brown and blah in appearance (at least until you cut into it) but no biggie. The pie is creamy and rich and the sweet and salty nutty topping is the perfect complement. This is a fairly sweet dessert, which is never a bad thing in my book, but you could probably reduce the sugar in the filling slightly if you were averse to such things :)
Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar-Walnut Topping
from Bon Appetit, November 2009 (via Epicurious)
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 9-inch pie crust (I used this one)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
To make the topping: Add the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly - I left some pieces of walnut a little bigger, but you could pulse until they were very fine. (You can make the topping a day ahead of time, just store in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Roll the dough into about a 12-inch round. Transfer to the pie plate. Trim away the excess then fold the edges under and crimp them. Place the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray then use it (sprayed side down) to line the crust. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is set. Remove the pie weights and the foil carefully then return the crust to the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. (If bubbles form, just use the back of a spoon to gently press them down.) Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and allow the crust to cool.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together until well combined - make sure there are no brown sugar lumps. Add the pumpkin puree and heavy cream and whisk until incorporated.
Pour the filling into the crust and transfer the pie to the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is firm (it will still jiggle, but if you touch it, it shouldn't be wet). Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the surface then return to the oven. Bake for an addition 15-20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 175 F. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
(You can make the day 1 day ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate overnight, removing about 1 hour before you intend to serve.)