(mexican) pumpkin pie. Pumpkin is not something terribly used for cooking in this neck of the woods. In fact, the only dessert which readily comes to mind is calabaza en tacha- pumpkin cooked with piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar) and spices. But despite having been brought up in Mexico, pumpkin pie is still at the centre of many fond memories. Thanksgiving is not something we celebrated, but there was always pumpkin pie around this time of the year and as I moved abroad, I learned to appreciate it even more.
This year I was a bit late to jump unto the pumpkin bandwagon (I blame it on the ongoing heat tricking me on staying stuck on summer), but this week I craved so badly a pumpkin pie that it actually came slightly early. When thinking of how to tackle the pie, I thought it would be great to incorporate many of the tastes I love from the Mexican calabaza en tacha (while keeping the recipe as healthy as possible).
This resulted in using agave nectar and molasses as the sweeteners, using (a bit) of Mexican crema (crème fraîche being the closest substitute) instead of the regular cream (which adds a lovely tanginess), and incorporating anise seeds in my whole wheat crust (an idea I could not help but loooove from Gourmet)(and one of the evident spices in the calabaza en tacha). The pumpkin variety I bought (which according to the merchant at the market was the tastiest one he had and the most used for cooking in Mexico)(and it really was!), is not too orange and so the result (along with adding the molasses) was a deeper caramel colour (with a slightly green tint).
And hey, while I am generally not a fan of whipped cream, it is a must for me when it comes to pumpkin pie. So to top it off I whipped some crema with a touch of agave nectar and Mexican vanilla extract.
But in all seriousness, this pie is a serious winner (both warm and cold). Gone in one day and change, and I already picked up a second pumpkin today- which is now awaiting slaughter in my kitchen for next thursday.
click through for recipe
for the filling
675 g (2 1/2 cups) pumpkin puree
90 g (1/3 cup) Mexican crema (or crème fraîche)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
160 mL (2/3 cup) agave nectar
1 TBS dark molasses
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
for the anise seed whole wheat pastry
200 g (1 1/2 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
1 TBS evaporated cane juice (or sugar)
1 TBS anise seeds
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
115 g (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-4 TBS ice cold water
for the crema batida (makes 2 cups)
270 g (1 cup) of Mexican crema (or crème fraîche)
1 TBS agave nectar (or to taste)
1 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
For the anise seed whole wheat pastry, place the flour, sugar, salt and anise seeds into a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the butter and pulse a few more times. Add the beaten egg and pulse a couple more times. Add 1 tablespoon of ice cold water at a time. On a flat surface incorporate into a ball, flatten, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a 22 cm (9 inch) tart tin. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Blind bake for 15 minutes with wax paper and baking beans, remove and bake until crust is golden brown (10-15 mins). Let cool completely.
For the filling, thoroughly combine all ingredients in a bowl and pour onto the pre-baked pastry. Bake at 170°C (340°F) for 45-50 minutes (or until just set at the centre). Let cool for at least 30 minutes to an hour (to allow further setting) before digging in.
For the crema batida (whipped cream), beat the crema (or crème fraîche), agave nectar and Mexican vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy and firm.
IMPORTANT NOTE: while I provide measurements in both grams and cups throughout my recipes, I tend to favour weighing the ingredients for greater precision. Measuring by cups depends on too many variables (starting with how you pour the flour) and can be imprecise. I therefore highly suggest following the metric measurements for best results.