One might say that I'm obsessed with Thanksgiving. After all, it is every foodies dream holiday. And given that each year I'm the designated hostess, my quest to find that exceptional dish is what led me to this pumpkin pie. Light as air, soft and creamy, nicely balanced in sweetness and spice, I dare to say it's kind of perfect!
In the past I've avoided meringue pie toppings, opting for simple whipped cream instead, but I've come to realize that fancy looking meringue is quick simple to make. It takes but 5-7 minutes and truly defines this pie, so don't let it intimidate you. I've included a few tips for success at the bottom of the recipe. Browning the meringue is not essential but will give it an awesome, professional polish. I used a small kitchen torch like this. It's a handy little tool to have in your arsenal when making creme brulee, or marshmallow toppings. An alternative method, but one I have never tried, is browning the meringue in the oven. Again, instructions are at the bottom of the recipe. Remember, browning only adds to the aesthetics, not the flavor, so this step is completely optional.
Pumpkin Meringue Pie
- 1-1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
- 7 T. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350F. Process graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl. Add melted butter and mix with a fork until well combined. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
In the bowl of an electric mixer with on medium speed with the paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin puree and eggs until well combined. Add the brown sugar, spices, and salt. Mix well. Add the heavy cream and mix until well combined. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie shell. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. The filling should be firm in the middle but still soft to the touch when ready. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for at least 2 hours. The bottom of the pie pan should feel cool to the touch.
- 4 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1/4 t. cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 t. vanilla extract
Using an electric mixer set on high speed and the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. add cream of tartar and salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Add vanilla and beat another 30 seconds. Mixture should be light and fluffy. To test it, insert a spatula into the mixture and quickly pull it out. It should form little peaks and not fall.
Place the meringue on top of the pie forming a mound in the middle. Using a spatula, pat and lift it across the top of the pie, forming peaks. Spread all the way out to the edges of the crust.
Using your torch if you have one, lightly brown the peaks until you have the desired effect. If using the oven, preheat to 400F. Place the pie on the middle rack and bake for 6-10 minutes until you have achieved the desired effect. Keep a close eye to prevent burning. Serve within an hour or two.
Tip for Success:
When making meringue, it's easier to separate the egg whites when the eggs are cold but bring them to room temperature before beating.
Recipe adapted from Leite's Culinaria
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