Thanksgiving 2015 was many things for me– for us (I’m getting more used to saying that now). It was my first Thanksgiving as a part of an engaged couple. This year, thinking about all of our family back in Alabama, Thanksgiving was especially difficult. I will admit that there were times when all of this cooking felt decidedly pointless. I had many thoughts: why am I doing all of this for just the two of us? who really cares? what are we doing? this is so much work and effort for a celebration with only two people.
It was a real struggle. There were times when I almost quit cooking entirely, and I came close to calling off the meal.
However, we kept cooking and ended up having a good time and making a great meal!
For us, any great cooking adventure starts with an equally fabulous bottle of wine. We found a great bottle of red and opening it up as the rosemary-sage rolls were headed into the oven was a calming moment for me. Everything seemed to be coming together, and it began feeling much more like the cozy Thanksgivings I know and love!
There are a few dishes that I will always associate with Thanksgiving. I usually don’t eat them outside the context of the holiday and Thanksgiving just wouldn’t feel right without these sides. A vegetarian, sage dressing is one of those dishes. Green bean casserole with crispy onions on top perfectly pretends to be the vegetable of the table. We had all of these things ready to go into the oven and complete our meal, when I decided that candied, gelatinous cranberry and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes were not dessert-y enough.
So, we decided to make a pie, because, why not? Pies are chill, right? And, as if we didn’t have enough to handle in our tiny kitchen, I had the bright idea to try a brand new kind of pie with special decorations on top. I’m not even a pie expert, but I suppose the wine had me feeling overzealous.
The above pie is the result of our adventure in Thanksgiving baking. While the filling did overrun the edges a bit, it is an absolutely delicious dessert and I highly recommend it. However, we spent an inordinate amount of time hand-making those tiny decorations. The acorn is mine and the holly leaves are William’s creation.
Let me just say- it is 100% not worth your precious Thanksgiving day to sit around building decorations to make your pumpkin pie look more like fall. Pumpkin itself is the essence of fall, and when you’re left with a tiny hunk of plain pâte brisée, you won’t care that it looks like an acorn, just that it isn’t nearly as good without the delicious bourbon-pumpkin filling!
Bourbon Pumpkin Pie
makes 1, 9″ pie
for the crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons salted butter
~5 tablespoons ice water
for the filling
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons bourbon (your favorite- we used Bulleit, but Knobb Creek would work well too)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1 /2 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
for maple whipped cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons maple syrup
9″ pie pan and pie weights (or dried rice/beans)
Begin by making your crust. Combine the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor until it looks almost like butter flour or dry cheese curds.
You will need to shift the dough around in your food processor to let it come together. Add in a few tablespoons of ice water. Pulse the food processor. Continue adding a bit of water and pulsing just until the dough forms a ball. Wrap it in parchment paper and chill it in the refrigerator for about an hour.
After the dough has chilled, carefully roll it out onto a floured surface. Flatten the dough into your pie pan and trim the edges. You can also crimp the edges, but I didn’t spend too much time on this. Prick the crust with a fork and put it in the refrigerator to chill for another half hour. All of this chilling time is very important to keep the butter solidified and it helps make for a flakier crust.
After the crust has chilled again, place tin foil over it and fill it with pie weights. Bake it at 375°F for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and bake for 5 more minutes.
While the crust is baking, combine all of the filling components in a large bowl.
Let the crust cool to room temperature, then carefully pour the filling into the crust. You will have extra filling, be careful not to overfill the crust like I did! Bake at 325°F for an hour.
While the pie is baking, make the whipped cream. In a food processor, combine cold whipping cream and maple syrup. Beat together until stiff peaks form.
Cut the pie and serve immediately!
This pie is particularly good with the cold whipped cream spread on top of it!