I suppose if you asked a hundred people what food best exemplifies Thanksgiving, you’d expect to get a hundred different answers. But, for me, its pumpkin pie. I usually make it with a can of pumpkin puree and whatever it says on the side of the can. Don’t get me wrong, that recipe makes a great pumpkin pie. In fact, I am very proud of the fact that I carry mace in my cupboards. We won’t talk about the meltdown I had a few years ago when I could not find my mace. I am over it. Completely. Almost. But when I received my Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and saw the pumpkin pie on the cover, I may have swooned just a little bit! Now that is a pumpkin pie!
Their recipe comes complete with a flaky pastry bottom crust, but I am going to swap it out for a lower calorie graham cracker one. Let me go on the record as saying, I do not condone cutting calories, fat, etc. on Thanksgiving, but I do not think a graham cracker crust is a compromise. A graham cracker crust is practically no fail. I mean, everone expects the crust to fall off a little bit. But can you imagine the dissapointment on my family’s face if I produced a pumpkin pie with a tough crust? Not taking any chances. And anyway, I got some graham teddy bears snacks for half off! They also claim the pecan brittle is optional, pffft!
Maple Pumpkin Pie with Salted Pecan Brittle
Choose either a pastry crust or a graham cracker crust. You will be mad if you make both! The pecan brittle us optional, but pretty.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 4 – 5 tablespoons cold water
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 6 1/2 ounces graham crackers (about 12)
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) sugar, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) water, optional
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup milk
Salted Pecan Brittle:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare the pastry crust: Stir together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the shortening until the the mixture resembles peas. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the water and gently toss with a fork. Push the moistened dough to the side and repeat, using 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. Gently form dough into a ball. On a lightly floured work surface, flatten the dough slightly with your hands. Roll out from the center to form a 12-inch diameter circle. transfer dough to a pie plate and trim to 1/2-inch beyond the edge. Fold the pastry under and crimp decoratively.
Prepare a graham cracker crust: Break cracker up and either use a food processor to crush them into fine crumbs or place in a plastic ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin or similar device. Place crumbs in a bowl, stir in sugar and/or cinnamon, if using. Melt butter and pour over. Mix well. Mixture should stick together when squeezed in your hand, if not, add some of the water until it reaches desire consistency. Press crumbs into a pie plate. You can use a spoon of the side of a glass to do this.
Prepare the filling: In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add in the eggs and beat lightly with a fork to combine. Gradually add milk and stir to combine.
Carefully pour the filling into the pastry shell. Cover the edge of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack for one hour. Cool and refrigerate 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the brittle: Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; bring to a boil. Continue to boil, without stirring, until the mixture turns an amber color, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pecans and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt. Remove from heat and pour into prepared pan. Use a spatula to spread the mixture out and sprinkle with the remaining sea salt. Cool competely, then break into large pieces. Can be made up to a week in advance and stored, covered, at room temperature.
Sprinkle the brittle over the cooled pie and serve.