Now here I am, 24 years old and a complete sucker for even the most pathetic attempts of advertising. I blame this on the fact that I never had the years of TV-watching practice that my peers did. While most kids were growing into jaded and discerning American consumers with each passing day, I was frolicking through the pacific northwest woods, picking huckleberries, and learning to trust everything I saw and heard. That's right, I'm now the girl who sees an infomercial for quadro-high-tech-ubber-gripping tires and promptly calls her daddy to ask if she needs to install them immediately on her aging Saturn.
This innocence (ok, gullibility) is probably why I found myself shelling out an extra $2 at the farmer's market last weekend in exchange for a "Luxury Pumpkin." There I was, walking amongst the rows of freshly picked gourds when I found myself flummoxed by two identical piles of pumpkins. On my left I saw a sloppy, hand-written sign saying "Sugar Pumpkins, $2" and on my right a similar one saying "Luxury Pumpkins, $4".
Well gosh darn if the two sets of pumpkins didn't look exactly the same to me.
"They're...juicier?" the farm hand hesitantly responded after I asked what my extra two pumpkin dollars might be buying. While I had no concept of what a "juicy" pumpkin might be like, it was enough information to sell me on the purchase. That's some hard-core farmer's market advertising right there. For once though, the advertising definitely worked out in my favor. This was the meatiest, tastiest, most flavorful pumpkin that has ever graced my oven. I'll have you know that the skin of a Luxury Pumpkin is a bit darker and thinner than that of a regular sugar pumpkin. It's so thin, in fact, that you can easily slice right through it with your kitchen knife without softening it in the oven first. In honor of my beautiful pumpkin, I made a ridiculously rich and delicious pumpkin pie with a friend from culinary school. I don't know how much credit goes to the recipe, and how much credit goes to the pumpkin itself, but this was far and away the most scrumptious pumpkin pie I've ever eaten. Ever. Ask Hillary, she'll vouch for it.
So, happy pumpkin season to you. May your days be filled with juicy gourds and honest advertising!
Luxury Pumpkin Pie with Walnut and Brown Sugar Crumble
Inspired by a recipe from the November 2009 issue of Bon Appetit
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1.5 cups pumpkin puree (see below how to make your own!)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup walnut pieces, roughly chopped
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Healthy pinch of kosher salt
*To make your own pumpkin puree: Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cut your sugar pumpkin into 4ths, and remove the stem. Scrape out the seeds and stringy flesh with a spoon. Leave only the solid pumpkin flesh. Rub all the flesh with a bit of butter, and lay face up in the large pan. Roast your pumpkin until very soft, about 1 hour. Don’t worry if it becomes darker and caramalized in some areas. That will only make it infinitely more delicious when it's pureed. When it's done roasting, peel off the skins using your fingers, and mash it by hand or pulse in a food processor.
Step one: Make you pie crust. If you feel up to the challenge, I recommend that you make your own pie crust. I can gaurantee that it will be more delicious than a store bought variety. I've found that everyone has their own favorite pie crust recipe, so I won't put one here. What's important here is that you pre-bake the pie shell. This means that after it's laid out in the dish, cover it with parchment and put in some pie wieghts or fill it with beans. Bake it at 425 F for about 12 minutes, remove the weights and the parchment, and continue baking at 350 F for about 15 - 20 min, or until the shell is baked through. Cool crust on rack while you prepare the filling.
Step two: Make the filling. Put brown sugar, eggs, salt, and spices into a food processor and pulse a few times until evenly blended. Then add the pumpkin and cream and process until smooth.
Step three: Bake the pie. Pour filling into the prepared crust and bake in the oven at 350 F until filling is almost set, about 30 minutes. If the crust is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
Step four: Add the topping. While the pie is in the oven, whisk together all the ingredients of the filling. Remove pie from oven when it has set, sprinkle topping over evenly, reduce oven temperature to 325, and return pie to oven for another 15 minutes. Allow pie to cool completely before digging in.