This past Thanksgiving was filled with family and food- just the way I like it! My culinary assignment was pie on pie on pie: pumpkin pie for my mom's house and apple pie for the in-laws (post to follow). As much as I like cooking, I do appreciate being in the dessert category for the holidays. Things can get rowdy with too many chefs in the kitchen and being the Pie Person enables one to bake in the comfort and familiarity of their own kitchen. The plan of attack was simple.
Step 1: pick a recipe and read the directions all the way through to avoid any last minute surprises. For example, planning to leave the house as soon as the pie is fresh out of the oven when it needs to cool completely. Trust, it's no fun trying to keep a hot pie stabilized in the car when you're, inevitably, running late.
Step 2: buy all the ingredients the week prior to the event (pending expiration) and take inventory. There is nothing worse than putting on the final touches for dinner and oh woopsy- the recipe says thyme but you bought rosemary (this happened recently- can you tell?).
Step 3: prep work is your best friend. If it can be done the day before, heck yes make it. The time formula goes, "expected time needed + 30 minutes = time to completion." In this instance, I made the pumpkin pie the night prior as well as the pie crust for the apple pie. The directions on the apple pie stated best served the day made so I wanted to hold off on making the filling.
Step 4: have fun and relax. If baking or cooking gets stressful then you're better off ordering take out. I hate being rushed and have learned to stop myself before diving into a project that's going to simply piss me off.
Much to my excitement, there were two pies that I had been itching to make! First up is this awesome Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie courtesy of Bon Appetit. What intrigued me about this recipe was the chocolate crust. I've seen chocolate paired with sweet potato and it was delish- bets were it would go well with pumpkin too. We enjoyed this crust so much, Mike and I were actually eating it raw. That's a first!
The filling is pumpkin laced with maple syrup. The recipe calls for "grade B" maple syrup, which I had no idea existed and required a trip to Trader Joe's. Apparently the flavor is more potent in this version and adds a slightly caramel dimension. Either way, maple syrup in and of itself is a winner. Oh! And don't forget there's a mild shot of bourbon in the filling to help balance the sweetness.
Finally, there's the brûléed top- a generous sprinkling of sugar that is torched! I don't own a brûlée torch and ghetto rigged it using the oven broiler. It's not necessary but it does add a visual dynamic with a touch of texture to the pie. Left to my own devices, I could have easily eaten this entire pie solo. It was deceivingly not sweet so you could just keep going. Gobble to you wobble!
For the Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie recipe, check out Bon Appétit's post on their site! It's a delightful and welcome twist to tradition.