We’ve all probably experienced it: the hushed whisper following the turkey dinner, the hesitant almost shameful confession, barely audible: “I… don’t like pumpkin pie”. Pumpkin pie is not for everyone, let’s face it. When you think about it, spicey pumpkin mush baked inside a pie crust is a bit strange.
As a kid, I did not love pumpkin pie either. I was always grateful for the sweet sight of a steaming apple pie on the Thanksgiving dessert table. I’d still help myself to a sliver of the dreaded pumpkin pie, for the sake of tradition, and in an ongoing quest to try to understand why everyone goes so gaga over this dessert. I started to appreciate pumpkin pie sometime in my late teens, when I discovered that the best pumpkin pie wasn’t actually made with pumpkin, but with squash. Ideally, one with a deep bright orange flesh, sweet and creamy: butternut, buttercup, delicata will all do the trick.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with any kind of squash dessert that could be served as an alternative to pumpkin pie. One of my favorites is pumpkin maple crème caramel, with its close runner-up: roasted squash crème brûlée. But this year, I decided to try something new. Something that the pumpkin-pie skeptics out there could sink their teeth into.
If pumpkin pie slipped on a silky ballgown, this dessert would be the result: a voluptuous golden custard nestled inside a nutty, cookie-like crust with a hint of spice, topped with Bourbon whipped cream and cinnamon-butter toasted pumpkin seeds. I use puréed roasted butternut squash but buttercup squash and other sweet fleshy squash varieties would work equally well. And yes, pumpkin purée will also do the trick very nicely. The best part is the press-in crust. No rolling out is necessary and it bakes quickly in 10 minutes, with no further baking involved. The consistency is like that of a coconut cream pie, but the taste is all windy fall days, pumpkin spice, and Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
Butternut Bourbon Cream Pie
If pumpkin pie slipped on a silky ballgown, this dessert would be the result: a voluptuous golden custard nestled inside a nutty, cookie-like crust with a hint of spice, topped with Bourbon whipped cream and cinnamon-butter toasted pumpkin seeds. Read about Aube Giroux's inspiration for this Thanksgiving dish on Kitchen Vignettes.
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats (or whole wheat flour)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 6 Tbsp. softened butter
- 2 3/4 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup organic cornstarch
- 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
- 3/4 cup butternut squash purée
- 1/4 tsp. cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- Whipped Topping:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp. bourbon
- 2 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
- Crispy Topping:
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- To make the crust, place all the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse until fine. Add the butter and process until a crumbly mixture is obtained. Press this into a buttered 9-inch pie plate. Prick the bottom with a fork and bake in a 350F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling.
- To make the filling, whisk the cornstarch, sugar, cardamom, and nutmeg together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. In a blender, place the butternut squash purée, milk, eggs and egg yolk and blend until smooth. Slowly pour half the liquid mixture into the saucepan and whisk well to integrate the cornstarch mixture into the liquid mixture. Pour the remaining liquid mixture and whisk well. Warm on medium-low heat and whisk continuously. When the mixture begins to thicken, whisk vigorously to avoid lumps. The mixture will thicken into a custard very quickly so don’t walk away from it, keep stirring at all times. Once it begins to thicken, cook for an additional 2 minutes and remove from heat. If there are lumps, pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove them, using a rubber spatula to help push the custard through the sieve. Chill the custard in the fridge for about 2 hours, with a plate or plastic wrap placed directly on top of the custard to avoid a skin forming on the top.
- Pour the cooled custard into the cooled pie crust. To make the topping, whip the cream and then whisk in the sugar and bourbon. Toast the pumpkin seeds and all the crispy topping ingredients in a small pan over medium heat until sizzling and golden. Allow to cool. Pour the whipped cream on top of the butternut custard and garnish with the toasted pumpkin seeds. Can be made up to 24 hours ahead and kept in the fridge. Serve cold.
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series has been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards for Best Video Webcast (On Location). In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.