In My Kitchen

Impromptu Pumpkin & Candied Walnut Pie

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Earlier this week I wrote about my disastrous lunchtime grocery shopping trip last Wednesday. One of the ill-begotten goods I picked up on my ill-fated trip was a bag of pre-cut pumpkin. It sat in the fridge until Sunday when I knew I had to use it or lose it.

My first thought was to use it in the stuffed peppers I planned on making, but I thought those little pumpkin cubes deserved more. They deserved to be the star of the show.

I remembered that I had some leftover mascarpone and cream cheese frosting from a batch of red velvet cupcakes I made a week ago and inspiration took hold – I’d make a creamy pumpkin pie. I had everything on hand to make an all butter pie crust and a bag of walnuts in the pantry would offer the perfect textural counterpoint.

For the pie crust I followed the basic proportions I found in a recipe on Pinterest with a few adjustments – this was my recipe:

Pie crust ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 250 grams salted butter
  • 4 tbsp ice water

I’ve made pie crust a few times in the past. I’m far from a master at it but I learn a little bit each time. I’ve found that using a mixer (what’s called a kitchen robot in Europe lol) with a wire whisk attachment helps to create that crumbly texture without melting the butter (if using fingers) or exhausting yourself (if using the fork method.) 

So I pulled out my trusty little robot gifted to me by a departing American expat couple and got to work measuring out the flour, butter, salt and sugar into the mixing bowl. I used a knife to roughly mix the butter and flour so that the butter wouldn’t just get stuck in the blades of the wire whisk attachment. Finally when it was more or less incorporated I plugged my robot in and hit go. Nothing happened. Then I remembered that the power was out.

So as is always the case in the kitchen, I improvised and used the whisk attachment to manually make the pie crust. I slowly added 1 tbsp of water around the edges and kept mixing, being sure to stamp downwards instead of swishing the dough around (which can promote gluten formation – the opposite of a tender, flakey pie crust.)
All things considered it was one of my better attempts so no harm done by the power outage. I’m just glad it came back on in time to bake the pie.

For the filling I boiled the pumpkin cubes in some water with a bit of salt and sugar and then mixed with the cream cheese and eggs.

Filling Ingredients

  • 400 grams (almost 1lb) of cut up pumpkin – boiled in water with a pinch of salt and ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup of mascarpone cream cheese frosting (equal amounts mascarpone and Philadelphia cream cheese plus 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp Madagascar bourbon vanilla)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, separated

After the pumpkin was finished boiling I drained it, mashed it with a fork and combined it in a bowl with the cream cheese frosting, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and 2 egg yolks. 

It was a little chunkier than I would have liked so I ran it through the blender to get a smoother consistency.

I beat the egg whites to stiff peaks with the wire whisk and gently folded the pumpkin filling and egg whites together.

I poured the filling into the prepared pie crust and baked it in the oven uncovered at 175 C / 375 F for 50 minutes. 

While it was baking I tossed some walnuts with maybe 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, 1 tbsp sugar and ¼ tsp cinnamon and then baked them (after the pie was done) at 200 C / 400 F for about 10 minutes.

Once the walnuts were cooled I topped the pie with them. Easy as that.

This isn’t a recipe that’s going to win any awards and I’m sure you can find better pumpkin pie out there. All this is meant to demonstrate is that a little improvisation goes a long way in the kitchen and can also help make the most of ingredients and reduce food waste. Important things in the world today.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this kitchen experiment and until next time,

Cristina

 

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