Friday, December 12, 2014

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Topping

Starting about mid September, pumpkin fans begin to rejoice.  It's pumpkin time and the pumpkin recipes begin to flow.  From the middle of September to the end of December we see a plethora of pumpkin recipes flood the internet.  And to be honest, I'm one of those people that can't get enough of the orange stuff.

While my dad's pecan pie will always be the number one holiday pie in my life, pumpkin pie has quickly earned it's place in the number 2 spot.  I've tried various pumpkin pie recipes over the years.  From the basic pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of whipped cream, to renditions that include chocolate chips, a variation that is a combination of cheesecake and pumpkin pie layered on one another; they have all been good.
But this year, I think I found the pumpkin pie recipe.  The one that's a showstopper, not only in taste but appearance too.  A pumpkin pie that's full of all that amazing spice we expect, a creamy, rich filling that is sweetened by granulated sugar, as well as, brown sugar that gives it that caramel-y undertone.
Now folks, we could stop there and have an amazing pie.  But why stop, when it could be extraordinary?  That amazing filling is poured in a buttery, flaky pie crust and baked to the perfect doneness.  Once the pie has cooled it's then given another layer of flavor.  A topping.
This isn't just any topping.  It's a rich, buttery, and caramel-like topping that is beautifully golden.  That mixture envelopes chopped pecans, which gives it a slightly rustic look, as well as, fresh cranberries.  These cranberries, even when coated in the praline sauce give the pie a pop of color.  This sauce.  Oh boy, this sauce.  It took all the willpower I had not to take a spoon, sit down and devour it straight from the pan.  It is amazing.  This is the stuff dreams are made of.  I had to put it in the corner and literally walk away until the pie was ready, otherwise there wouldn't have been any topping for it.

But, since I practiced that self control, the pie was able to get topped with the most incredible sauce I've ever put in my mouth.  It's buttery, nutty, all with a hint of vanilla.  It's given a little extra texture not only from the pecans, but from the fresh cranberries.  This is that dessert that you want to hold all for yourself so you can enjoy a slice with your cup of coffee everyday of the week.  But, you then have guilt so you decide to share!
So folks, it's still pumpkin season and there's still plenty of events coming up which are the perfect excuse to try this pie.  This may just be your signature dessert for years to come!

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Topping
Ingredients:

1 Pie crust, homemade or storebought

For the filling-
2 cans pumpkin puree
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
4 Tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 Tsp salt
1 1/2 Cups cold heavy cream
2 Large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tsp vanilla extract

For the topping-
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, packed
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tsp heavy cream
1/4 Tsp salt
1 Tsp vanilla extract
3/4 Cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 Cup fresh chopped cranberries. optional

Directions:

Roll pie crust, place in a pie plate, trim excess crust, crimp the edges and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

When ready to make the filling, preheat oven to 425.

For the filling-
Place pumpkin puree, sugars, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook the mixture until it begins to bubble, stirring frequently.  Cook mixture for 5-7 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.  The mixture will become fragrant and begin to thicken slightly as some of the water in the pumpkin cooks off.

Remove the mixture from heat and transfer to a medium bowl.  Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Transfer mixture to prepared crust and place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and cook for 40-50 minutes, until the pie no longer jiggles in the center.

For the topping-
Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, butter, cream and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat.  Bring the mixture to a simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans and cranberries, if desired.  Allow the mixture to rest until pie is removed from oven and allowed to cool for about 30 minutes.  The pie may settle and deflate while cooling.

Pour the praline topping over the pie.  If the topping isn't pourable, return to heat or place in microwave (in a microwave safe dish) and heat for about 30 seconds.  Leave the topping in the center, or spread into an even layer.  The topping will thicken as it cools.  Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

Recipe source: Joy the Baker, via Better Homes and Gardens

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