November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Week! Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie Recipe


It's that time of year! Pie season! Of course, pie season happens about every weekend at my house. {wince} But for most folks, the holidays means you're crimping and stirring and filling and traveling pie to holiday gatherings from now through January 1! And the pie that kicks it all off is pumpkin! {stadium applause} So this week, Euna Mae's is spending time on pumpkin pie including making homemade crust, making your own whipped cream, blind-baking a crust, and a few other fundamentals. So by Friday, you'll have everything you need to make the perfect pumpkin pie!

Now let me say this, there could be about 473 individual blog posts on pie basics and tips. But I'm going to focus on just pumpkin for now. Trust me. We'll cover everything you need to know about pies in our time together here on EM's over the coming days, months, and years. 

If you're looking for a super, classic recipe for pumpkin pie, I'd look no further than the recipe on the can of Libby's pumpkin. And if you have gobs of time on your hands between school parties, post-season high school football, Christmas shopping, and folding whites, and you feel like baking your own sugar pumpkins and scooping out the insides, then knock yourselves out. I, on the hand, prefer to put my 'extra effort' into making homemade crust rather than scooping out pumpkin mush. I think canned pumpkin is just as good, but I do not think that store-bought crust is as good. There, I said it.

My preferred pumpkin pie recipe includes a block of cream cheese and a heavier dose of egg yolks which give the pie added richness and also some girth. I know several of you have been frustrated because your classic pumpkin pie won't set up and is too liquid-y. But this recipe sets up beautifully, and the cream cheese gives it creaminess and a little tang that compliments the warm spices and pumpkin flavor.
{makes one 9-inch pie}

1 8oz package regular cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 cups canned pumpkin (equal to about 1 1/2 cans)
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks*, slightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted and cooled unsalted butter
3/4 tsp good vanilla extract
1/4 tsp coconut extract (trust and obey)
1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 pie crust disc
*Euna Mae's is a Great Day Farms brand ambassador

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (preheating oven how-to)

Place one, rolled pie crust disc into a 9-inch pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides. Pinch or crimp the edges together in whatever pattern you wish. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork.  Put the pie shell into the freezer for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour to firm up. Blind bake for 10 minutes filled with weights, then another 10 minutes without weights until the crust is dried out and beginning to get a little color. (Blind baking how-to's on Wednesday this week!) 

Turn the oven off and open the door to let heat out for 5 minutes or so. Then close door and turn oven on to 350 degrees.  Allow to preheat.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese. Add the pumpkin and beat until smooth and combined. If the cream cheese is low-fat or if it is not at room temperature, it will not combine smoothly and it'll glop. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. You'll likely need to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to get the cream cheese off of there - it likes to cling to the sides/bottom. Be sure to get it all incorporated and mixed in!

In another bowl, combine the slightly beaten eggs, half-and-half, heavy cream, and melted/cooled butter. Add to the bowl of pumpkin mixture. Beat until combined.  Finally, add the vanilla, coconut, cinnamon, and ginger, and beat until just incorporated.

With the pie plate sitting on a large baking sheet, fill the prepared crust with the filling and carefully move to the middle oven rack of the 350 degree oven. The large baking sheet helps you move the liquid pie more easily to the oven. Bake on the baking sheet for 30 minutes, then gently remove the half-baked pie from the sheet and continue to bake directly on the oven rack for another 20-30 minutes until the outer edges of the filling have dried, darkened and the center is just set. 

Place the pie on a wire rack and cool completely to room temperature. Completely! Then chill in the refrigerator uncovered for at least an hour before slicing and serving with sweetened whipped cream.  Recipe for homemade whipped cream this week too!