The Most Eye-Catching Pumpkin Pie, Thanks to 2 Easy Upgrades

published Nov 17, 2020
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Credit: Brittany Conerly

Thanksgiving Food Fest is a virtual food festival full of turkey, pie, games, and fun, starring many of our favorite cooks, ready to share the secrets of a most delicious Thanksgiving. Watch the event live at @thekitchn on Instagram from November 14-15 (or check back here after if you miss it).

For many — myself included — it’s not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. If you tuned into our Thanksgiving Food Fest, you may have caught Lauren Ko, self-taught home baker and author of Pieometry, put a wildly eye-catching twist on the classic holiday dessert. Her pumpkin black sesame pie is not only a unique take on the traditional flavor, but her smart decorating technique also makes it truly stunning even before you slice into it. The best part? It’s easy!

Let Geometry Lend Wow Factor to Your Pie

Don’t worry: You don’t need to dig deep in your memory here to what you learned in high school geometry. Lauren’s technique is as simple as can be and yet results in something truly impressive. You’ll simply roll out pie dough, cut it into small triangles, and bake the triangles. Then, once your pumpkin pie is baked and cooled, you’ll lay out the triangles, staggering them, to create a pretty geometric design.

While Lauren relies on a homemade pie crust for this pie, which is studded with black sesame seeds, you can apply this same geometric technique using store-bought pie crust to save time. If you want to save even more time, Lauren gave us full permission in her Thanksgiving Food Fest segment to even start with a store-bought pie. Then, all you have to do is bake off the buttery pie crust triangles. However, if you do so, you will miss out on on the unique black sesame addition in her pumpkin pie, which really does take it to another level.

Credit: Brittany Conerly

Get to Know Black Sesame

Black sesame is a common ingredient in Chinese desserts, which is what led Lauren to trying it in her pumpkin pie. The seeds are the sister to common white sesame seeds and, while similar in flavor, they are indeed bolder and more intense, even a touch bitter. Their nutty bitterness is really a great match for naturally sweet pumpkin, though, and together they make for a pretty sophisticated take on the Thanksgiving pie.

To make a layer of black sesame filling in the pie, you’ll simply make a classic pumpkin pie filling first, which is rich with baking spices like cinnamon and ginger, then you’ll separate about a cup of the filling and whisk in some black tahini so it turns inky. Black tahini is nothing but roasted black sesame seeds that have been ground into a creamy paste. You’ll find it at Asian markets, online, and at some grocery stores like Whole Foods. After Thanksgiving has come and gone, have fun playing around with the ingredient in the kitchen. It can be used as a stronger, more intensely flavored replacement for regular tahini in hummus, energy balls, cookies, and more.

Ready to give it a try? Check out Lauren’s recipe for pumpkin black sesame pie.

And make sure to follow Lauren Ko on Instagram and buy her book for more gorgeous pie inspiration.