When I see the Autumn leaves beginning their rainbow transition, my mind goes to one thing - PUMPKIN PIE! As strange as the connection may seem, I'm obsessed with the delicious taste of pumpkin, cinnamon, and those spices like nutmeg that just scream Fall! Of course in other parts of the world, these spices are used more commonly around the kitchen and the calendar. Here is the U.S., it generally means that Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the way! While there are endless versions of pumpkin pie, many substituting Sweet Potatoes or Squash - I always go back to the original.
Of course, you don't have to wait for November to start baking pumpkin pies. Canned is available all year and many of the best bakers recommend using it.
Regular readers know I'm not a cook, so if I can create mini pumpkin pies - then so can you! This recipe is a mash-up of about a dozen different recipes found on the internet - with my own added twists. Whenever I could, I used Trader Joe's organic options. Certainly Whole Foods is another great resource, or your favorite brands of any or all ingredients! I also tried to cut down the amount of sugar that every recipe I saw called for. I think the flavor of the pumpkin and the natural sweetness of the raisins are enough.
What you need:
Two mixing bowls, one pie form, one oven (that was a joke) - Canned Pumpkin - 1 Can, 2 Whole Eggs, 1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice, 1/2 Cup Sugar, 1 Cup Whole Milk, 1 pre-packaged pie crust (in the freezer section), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 package instant Vanilla pudding mix, I Cup blond raisins, Pitted Prunes to Garnish
What you do:
Preheat oven to 375. ( I use a convection which every professional chef seems to LOVE.. yet I always have to turn up the temp and add time!!! go figure!).
-Remove ready made pie crust from freezer and allow to achieve room temperature. Don't worry if crust breaks apart, as you can mush back together in your baking dish.
-Combine sugar, salt, spices, and pudding mix in mixing bow.
-In a separate bowl beat eggs until consistent. Slowly stir in dry mixture as you whisk, then Gradually add milk and pumpkin. Drop in raisins. You want to make sure all ingredients are mixed and incorporated well.
-Place pie dough / crust in your baking dish of choice ( I used small ramekins , but you can use other forms or a traditional tin - but be mindful of baking time - usually instructions are on baking tins when you purchase). *I also push a stick of butter around the edges to grease - but the dough should have enough oil in it. Crimp edges to your liking. You can go many ways here, some use fork splits, others do dimples. I do it more old school free hand. I like it when it doesn't look perfect.
-Now pour or spoon in the pumpkin mixture. Don't be afraid to fill to the top of the crust level. The mixture will rise while baking and then sink while cooling - so you almost want it to be a little too full at this stage.
-Garnish with a few prunes. (these can be added after baking, I prefer them when they are baked). I also sprinkle on a little powdered sugar - totally optional.
-Place on center rack and bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven). Test with a knife or tooth pick and if it comes clean, it's Pumpkin Pie! Remove from oven and let cool.
- now place in freezer for an hour or so as it makes it easier to remove from deep dishes. If you are baking in a traditional tin / pan - this step is not critical as it should firm up totally even at room temperature.
Serve with whipped topping. I whisk up my own whipped cream. So easy, you just whisk a cup of heavy cream until it become thick.. stirring in some powdered sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
Guests will LOVE it.. if you can resist eating it until they arrive!! This one is tough to stay away from.