Ah, pumpkin pie — that most quintessential of Thanksgiving desserts. Here's my own favorite take on pumpkin pie — one that skips the sometimes finicky, sometimes soggy pie crust for one made from crispy graham crackers. Add a heaping spoonful of fresh, piquant ginger and you have the pumpkin pie I look forward to all year long.
Pumpkin pie didn't use to be a favorite. I liked the flavor and spices of traditional pumpkin pie, but often found it unpleasantly soggy. Then, a few years ago, I wondered what it would be like made with a toasty, firmer graham cracker crust. Presto — delicious. The graham cracker crust is easier to shape and press into place than a regular pie crust (I always use a homemade graham cracker crust; the storebought ones taste stale to me). It also holds up underneath the custard filling of the pumpkin, staying toothsome and snappy.
Other crackers or cookies would also work well in this recipe. Gingersnaps would be lovely in the crust, or even chocolate wafers, if you're feeling daring!
And finally, a note on the ginger. I keep this pumpkin pie fairly classic, with a dash of spices, cream, and eggs. But I do add a large dose of fresh ginger as well. This will be surprisingly mild on the first day you taste this pie. But if you let it rest in the refrigerator overnight, or for two days, you will find that the ginger taste blooms beautifully and becomes a spicy note underneath the mellow pumpkin. For that reason, I do recommend making this pie at least a day ahead.
Ginger Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
Makes one 9-inch pie, which serves 6 to 8 people.
1 graham cracker pie crust (see instructions and recipe here)
15-ounce can pumpkin puree OR just under 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
Heat the oven 375°F. Bake the graham cracker crust for 10 minutes then remove and let cool in the refrigerator while you make the filling. .
Whisk the pumpkin puree with the eggs, egg yolk, and brown sugar. To grate the ginger, use a piece of ginger about 4 inches long and grate to a pulp using a Microplane or fine grater. Discard the tough fibers; just use the milky juice and puree. Whisk the grated ginger, cinnamon and ginger spices, salt, and pepper into the pumpkin mixture. Add the cream and milk and whisk until smooth. Pour into the graham cracker crust.
Bake for about 50 minutes at 375°F, or just until set. Check after 30 minutes and tent with foil if the edges seem to be browning quickly. (I let mine get fairly dark, as I like the flavor!) The filling will continue to firm up after it comes out of the oven.
Refrigerate the pie after it is just cool to the touch. Let cool for at least two hours before slicing and serving.
• Recipe: Pumpkin Crumb Cakes
• Technique: Pumpkin Puree
• Honey Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
• Warm Pumpkin Salad with Polenta
Originally published November 20, 2007.
(Images: Faith Durand)