Happy Halloween! Anyone have a cool costume idea to share? Every year, some sort of pop culture phenomenon becomes the go-to for the holiday, even though by that time, it is way beyond old news. No more Miley Cyrus bears or foxes who are trying to tell us what it is that they say. Old news people! If you’re struggling for an idea, I’m pretty sure there won’t be a lot of people dressed as Sexy Pizza or any of the other sexy food outfits, so that could be a good idea. Not! Instead of dressing up and venturing into the cold streets of L.A., I’ll be toasty and warm, at home, on the couch. And I just may be baking. If you plan to do the same, here is a pie recipe that will make perfect use of any pumpkins resting on your stoop.
Call me a Halloween Scrooge, if you will. Go ahead, say it. I just do not like this holiday. Such a shame because it wraps up my favorite month of the year. In honor of October’s conclusion, I will stay home and cook. That may not be any different than most nights of the week, but I still feel like a rebel for bucking the trend. As we move into November, it is the time of the year for pies, pies, pies. In an effort to combine the “it” ingredient of the season and my personal favorite vegetable, I played around with a pie recipe for Amir’s birthday diner party. It is a hybrid based on a recipe in my 2010 edition of The Best of America’s Test Kitchen, and I hoped it would be a comfortable middle ground for the folks who stand on opposite ends of the pumpkin vs. sweet potato pie spectrum. Interesting techniques in this pie include the inclusion of extra egg yolks, simmering the pumpkin filling to concentrate the flavor and making use of two baking temps.
Finally, I decided to bake one pie, then pour the remaining custard filling in large ramekins. The custards were baked at 300 degrees for 55-60 minutes, or until the baked custard puffed, the edges set and the middle had a slight wiggle. Although I made a couple of tweaks to fit my time constraints and available ingredients, the essence of the original recipe remains. And there is absolutely nothing scary about enjoying a slice of warm pie, while the rest of the world scampers about in scratchy costumes and face paint.
Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Pie – Makes 2-9″ pies or 1-9″ pie and 4-8 ounce ramekins (Inspired by The Best of America’s Test Kitchen, 2010)
2 cups half-and-half
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons dark rum*
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 ounces pure pumpkin puree
12 ounces sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 premade regular pie crusts, frozen
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the half-and-half, whole eggs, egg yolks, and rum. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over a medium high flame. Cook until the butter begins to turn golden brown and slightly frothy, approximately 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Immediately, pour in the pumpkin puree, sweet potato mash, both sugars and pumpkin pie spice over a medium high flame. Bring to a simmer, then continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, stirring often. The mixture will have thickened. Remove from heat, then stir in the salt.
4. Drop a heaping scoop of the pumpkin and sweet potato mixture into the liquid ingredients and whisk well to combined. Add the remaining cooked pumpkin and sweet potatoes, whisking constantly until smooth and creamy.
5. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl, and strain the filling through the sieve. Press the filling through with a spatula, scraping the thick mixture off the bottom and also depositing it into the bowl. Whisk the filling once more, then cover and cool completely.
6. Once the filling as cooled, pour into the frozen pie shell. Place the pie on a baking sheet, and slide into a preheated oven at 400 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes. The pies should be set along the edges with a slight wiggle in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool.
*The book’s recipe utilizes vanilla extract, not rum. But who has a problem with rum in their pie? Not many.
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