Sugar Pumpkin Pie
A Traditional Favorite
When small sugar or pie pumpkins come on the market around Halloween, snap up a few to make a delicious pumpkin pie filling. This seasonal Thanksgiving pie has a lighter and fresher flavor than a traditional pie. If possible, use a local honey. Good spices matter, too: Buy a whole nutmeg and grate it into the filling and select Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon for the strongest flavor. It even works to make and freeze the fresh pumpkin puree in 3-cup measurements ahead of time for quicker holiday preparation.
Makes one 9-inch single-crust pie
1 3-lb sugar or pie pumpkin
1 cup crumbled cinnamon graham crackers
½ cup chopped pecans
2 tsp canola oil or melted butter
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup wildflower, clover or other amber-colored honey
1 cup half-and-half
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside.
2. Cut the pumpkin into large chunks; remove and discard the seeds and stringy matter. Place the pumpkin pieces, cut-side down, on the baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool.
3. Remove the rind with a sharp knife and place the cooked pumpkin in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Measure 3 cups of puree for the pie.
4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°. Combine the graham crackers and pecans in a food processor and process until the mixture has the consistency of fine crumbs. Pour in the oil or melted butter and pulse until blended. Pat this mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.
5. In a bowl, using a hand-held mixer, beat the pumpkin puree with the eggs, honey, half-and-half, spices and salt until smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared pie pan. Place the filled pie pan on a cookie or baking sheet.
6. Bake the pie on the middle shelf of the oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the filling is glossy on top. Let cool before cutting and serving.
Judith Fertig is the author of the award-winning Prairie Home Cooking and All-American Desserts cookbooks.