I had a limited role for Thanksgiving dinner: the pumpkin pie and the cranberry sauce. My husband was making the rest.
I wanted to slip in a few Slovenian touches.
I toyed with the idea of pumpkin strudel. I knew it was traditional in Slovenia, and in a few other places in Eastern Europe. But I knew that would be pushing the limit with my family.
So it would be traditional pumpkin pie—but I would sneak in a secret Slovenian ingredient: pumpkin seed oil in the filling. And as long as I was innovating, why not try a gingersnap crust?
For the filling, I simply adapted the traditional recipe that you can find everywhere. For the crust, I used the recipe from the box of our favorite brand of gingersnaps.
Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed Oil and a Gingersnap Crust
1-1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps
6 T. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar
Crush the gingersnaps finely, using the food processor or a rolling pin. Mix in the sugar and butter and pat the crumbs into a deep 9 inch pie pan. Bake the crust for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool.
Full disclosure: I had some trouble with this crust. In the oven, it turned puffy in the center and started to slip down the sides. I had to pat it into place with a paper towel, before setting it aside to cool while I made the filling.
12 oz. canned pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
12 oz canned evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
2-3 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. grated fresh nutmeg
1 T. rum
1 t. vanilla
1 T. pumpkin seed oil
Mix the filling ingredients together well. (I like to leave the eggs for last, so that I can safely taste and adjust the seasonings. Just don't forget to add them at the end!) Pour filling into the pie crust.
I had a little filling left over. So I oiled two custard cups, put a gingersnap in the bottom of each, and divided the filling between them. The gingersnap immediately floated to the top. I put the custards in a hot water bath before putting them in the oven.
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (Custards will take less time, about 30 minutes.) Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
The pumpkin pie was quite a hit.
The combination of pumpkin filling and gingersnaps really works.
Everyone loved the crust. It was hard and almost candy-like, as though it had started to carmelize. Afterward, we noticed that the crust recipe had suggested a dip in hot water after baking for easier removal. So I suspect there may be an ingredient in this "healthy" gingersnap brand that affects the crust. Or perhaps the answer is finer crumbs and a little less butter.
For me, the pumpkin filling was the real standout. The pumpkin seed oil had a subtle but pronounced effect. It created a smooth, unctous texture and a deep, rich flavor. No one guessed that it was the secret ingredient.
This is one cooking experiment that I plan to repeat!