FEATURED RECIPE

Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie

Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie
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Alex Lau

There are thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of pumpkin pie recipes out there, and almost all of them contain a filling that follows this basic formula: pumpkin + eggs + sugar + dairy + warm spices. So why come up with yet another? Because so often the proportions are off between all these components. Sometimes it's an overwhelming amount of warm spice, other times too few eggs so the pie isn't custardy. Most often, there's too much sugar. I wanted a filling that set firmly into a custard and used strong flavors to balance out the vegetal quality of the pumpkin so I came up with browned butter for richness and caramelized honey (ust honey that's cooked to intensify the flavor) for sweetness. I love this pie and would gladly eat it on any occasion, not just Thanksgiving.

INGREDIENTS

Special Equipment:

  • 9-inch pie plate, pie weights or 4 cups dried beans or rice (for parbaking)

INGREDIENTS

  • Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough, parbaked in a 9-inch pie plate and cooled (see Dessert Person, page 333)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (2.5 oz / 71g)
  • â…“ cup honey (4 oz / 113g)*
  • Âľ cup heavy cream (6 oz / 170g), at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs (7 oz / 200g), at room  temperature
  • ÂĽ cup packed dark brown sugar (1.8 oz / 50g)
  • 1 (15 oz / 425g) can unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), preferably Libby’s**
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (0.11 oz / 3g)
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated), plus more for serving
  • ÂĽ teaspoon ground cloves***
  • Softly whipped cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the parbaked pie crust on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside. ‍
  2. Brown the butter: In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides constantly with a heatproof spatula. The mixture will sputter as the water boils off. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping, until the sputtering subsides, the butter is foaming, and the solid bits turn a dark brown, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Caramelize the honey: Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the honey (to prevent the butter from burning), stirring to combine. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, swirling often, until the mixture is darkened slightly and has a savory, nutty smell, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly stream in the heavy cream, stirring constantly (be careful—the mixture may sputter) until it’s smooth. Set the warm honey mixture aside. 
  4. Make the pumpkin filling: In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the whites and yolks, then add the brown sugar and whisk vigorously until the mixture has lightened in color by a shade or two, about 1 minute. Whisk in the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, salt, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves until smooth. Slowly stream in the warm honey mixture, whisking constantly, until the filling is completely homogenous.
  5. Fill the crust and bake: Pour the filling into the par-baked crust all the way to the top. (Depending on the height of your crust, you may have some leftover filling, which I recommend you keep!****) Ever so carefully transfer the pie to the center rack and bake until the filling is set and puffed around the edges and the center wobbles gently, 45 to 60 minutes. ‍
  6. Cool the pie gently: Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Let the pie cool completely in the oven. Doing so will allow it to cool gradually, which will prevent cracking on the surface. 
  7. ‍Serve: Slice the pie into wedges and top each piece with softly whipped cream. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg over the cream and serve.
DO AHEAD

The pie, covered and refrigerated, will keep up to 3 days but is best served on the first or second day (the crust will soften over time).

*Use a good-quality, dark-hued honey. The more strongly flavored the better, so it stands out against the pumpkin. Just don’t use buckwheat or chestnut honey, which are too intense.

**I don’t bother making my own puree from fresh pumpkin since I’ve never found it worth the effort. Canned pumpkin like Libby’s is lower in moisture and produces a perfectly smooth, flavorful pie.

***I like this combination of warm spices, but if you are missing one, can’t find them all at the store, or just don’t like certain spices, feel free to come up with your own blend.

**** Bake any remaining pumpkin filling separately in a small ramekin. I like to do this to prevent ingredient waste, and also because it allows me to sample the filling prior to cutting into the pie!

Excerpted from Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz, copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter / Publishers. Photography: Alex Lau.

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