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The Best Pumpkin Pie In The Whole Entire World

Ah! A Holidailies prompt I can really get behind!

Post a great holiday recipe and tell us why you like it so much.

Tinygramma I am posting my gramma's pumpkin pie recipe. I would post a picture of the actual index card with her actual handwriting on it, but my scanner is being recalcitrant and bratty and refusing to speak to my computer.

I love this pie. I have eaten this pie since I could eat pie. I think of my gramma every time I make it, even though I only make it twice a year -- Thanksgiving and Christmas. There's really no reason to not make it more, but for some reason I don't think of it. (Now that I think of it, I don't cook all that much, so maybe it's not all that surprising.)

My gramma was a great baker of pies. She always made her crust from scratch. I remember her sitting at the kitchen table, rolling out the dough, draping into a pie pan, and trimming off the excess with a fork. I loved eating the trimmings -- is that weird? She made apple, mince, blueberry, lemon meringue -- and pumpkin. I loved her pumpkin pie the best.

Over the years, both my older sister and I have laid claim to this recipe. She is a traditionalist and adheres to the letter of the recipe. Then again, she was in the convent for awhile. I, on the other hand, am more of a free spirit, and have made a few improvements to the recipe. Most notably, I have added a pinch of cloves to the mixture to pep up the taste a little. My sister considers this a sacrilege. Then again, my sister has never quite accepted the fact that I didn't take Joe's last name when we got married. She almost had a stroke the year I added some cardamom. (I have since decided that the cardamom was a little too much like gilding the lily. The cloves, however, have become an integral ingredient.)

But enough of the sibling rivalry! Without further ado, here's the recipe. It makes a shallow 9-inch pie or a deep 8-inch pie.

Mabel's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Ingredients, with commentary

  • Pie crust (I use Pillsbury Ready Crust. My sister makes it from scratch, and I admit that it is better that way, but I cannot make pie crust to save my life. I have tried. Honest, I have.)
  • 1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin (I don't know why it has to be Knox. It probably doesn't.)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar (I have actually altered the sacred recipe and used that sugar/Splenda blend; it works fine.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1-1/4 cup pumpkin (Equates to a small can of Libby's pumpkin. Do not use pumpkin pie mix; use the straight pumpkin. Also, a big can makes two pies.)
  • 1/2 cup milk (Whole, 2%, skim, whatever.)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves (If you like a bland pie, omit the cloves. Go ahead. Be like my sister; see if I care.)

Method, with more commentary

  1. Bake the pie crust and set it aside to cool. (It's best to do this before you start the cooking the filling, but I never seem to remember that. As long as it's done when the filling is done, it'll all work out, even if you take the crust out of oven and pour the filling right into it.)
  2. Separate the eggs and plop the yolks in a biggish saucepan. (Put the egg whites in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and shove in the refrigerator for three months. Then throw them out. Or, put them aside until Step 9.)
  3. Beat the yolks until they yell and promise to stop associating with the whites. Oh, okay, beat them until they are nice and frothy or until your hand gets tired.
  4. Add the pumpkin, half the sugar, salt, spices, and milk.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring stirring stirring, until the mixture gets really good and hot through and through and starts to fart. (By the way, my gramma's recipe does not say "starts to fart", just so you know. Her recipe says "Cook until thick in double boiler", but I have never used a double boiler and the mix has never gotten noticeably thicker, so I opted for cooking it until it farts. You will know it when it happens. Trust me on this.)
  6. If you have an electric stove, take the saucepan off the heat. If you have a gas stove, turn off the burner. (Well, turn off the burner even if you have an electric stove, but don't leave the saucepan on it, because you don't want the filling to burn.)
  7. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. (It won't dissolve totally, so don't get frustrated. Just mix it up good.)
  8. Dump the gelatin/water mixture in the filling, along with the rest of the sugar. (If you like your pumpkin pie more savory and less sweet, forget about the rest of the sugar.)
  9. Stir it up good. (If you really want to, you can beat up those egg whites you stuck in the refrigerator and fold them into the pumpkin stuff. I have never done this -- neither did my gramma -- so I can't say what will happen if you do. I suspect that's where the "Chiffon" in the title comes from, though.)
  10. Pour the stuff into the pie crust. Spread the filling artfully around inside the crust. Or not.
  11. Stick the pie in the refrigerator for at least an hour so that it will set.
  12. Just before you serve it, whip a lot of cream. You must do this. It's easy, honest. Just buy some whipping cream at the store, dump it in a nice clean mixing bowl, and beat the hell out of it. It is so much better than Redi-Whip or Cool Whip. (I will excuse you only if you are lactose intolerant.)
  13. Cut the pie into sixths, because you will want a big piece. Put a big glob of whipped cream on top. If you have more than six people, make another pie, dammit. Eighths are just too small. Besides, everyone will want seconds.

Better make two pies anyway, just to be on the safe side, and because a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream makes a great breakfast.

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