It’s a classic but here are some ways to tweak this essential autumn dessert.

Pumpkin pie is the quintessential autumn dessert; no Thanksgiving feast is complete without it. Despite being traditional, it’s not the most original offering, so forget the advice not to mess with a classic, and try these suggestions to tweak Grandma’s recipe. Just don’t tell her it was our idea!

1. Make mini pies

Getting your own mini dessert is always the preferable option because then there’s no obligation to share. Whether you downsize your pumpkin pie recipe into individual tarts, or even make bite-sized tartlets, it’s a great way to feed a crowd. Not to mention you save on dishes when you make a treat you can pop straight into your mouth! You can also make pumpkin hand pies if you really want to switch things up; plus they make for a grab-and-go dessert that can almost pass as breakfast. Almost.

2. Creative crust

Typically pumpkin pie is made with a basic 3:2:1 pie dough, that is 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, and 1 part water, all by weight. While this recipe works to let the flavour of the pumpkin come through, it doesn’t impart much flavour of its own.

Add your own flair to your pie by mixing spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice into the dough. Adding bran or oats also lends a nuttiness that works well with pumpkin.
Or, you could take it a step further by using a shortbread or sweet shortcrust pastry (known in French as pâte sucrée) that is enriched with egg yolks and sugar – or even filo pastry. Dessert is the final act of the meal, after all!

3. Limitless toppings

Are you a purist or do you take your pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream? If you opt for the latter, why not swap the whipped cream for another topping? Marshmallow and pumpkin are a natural pairing (think sweet potato casserole if you don’t believe me), so you can start there.

Make your own marshmallow or meringue, pipe it on top of the baked pie, and brûlée for that extra roasty, toasty touch.

Other topping and garnishes include:

  • flavoured whipped cream (think warming spices or even teas like chai or Earl Grey)
  • whipped coconut cream (skim the solids off the top of a can of coconut milk and whip until stiff peaks form)
  • white chocolate mousse
  • candied pumpkin seeds or nuts like pecans or walnuts
  • oat and brown sugar streusel
  • pieces of candied ginger
  • hot fudge sauce (chocolate and pumpkin make for a surprisingly delicious combination)

4. Transform it into cheesecake

Who doesn’t like the idea (and taste) of pumpkin cheesecake? Swap out pie dough for a graham cracker crust, blend some cream cheese into the filling, and that’s about all you have to do to transform a humble pie into a showstopper dessert. You don’t have to limit yourself to cream cheese either – mascarpone, strained Greek yogurt, or even ricotta cheese could all play the part. Finish by sprinkling sugar on top and brûléeing for added finesse.

5. Think outside the can (make your own pumpkin puree)

Pumpkin pie is pretty foolproof in the sense that you can open a can of pumpkin, stir in some eggs, sugar, and spices, pour the works into a piecrust and you’re ready to bake it.
However, cooking and pureeing your own pumpkin is definitely the better option in terms of flavour and freshness. Plus you can use everything from sugar pumpkins, to butternut squash, to sweet potato if you want to try something really outside of the box.

RECIPE: Pumpkin Crème Brûlée Tarts

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