Fed up with the same old, tired pumpkin pie for dessert? This year try something deliciously different and sure to be an unforgettable finish to the holiday meal.
Celebrity cookbook author DeDe (pronounced Day-Day) Wilson took time recently to share her fantastic take on the traditional pie - Amaretto-Almond Crunch Pumpkin Pie. Creamy classic pumpkin custard shot through with Amaretto and topped with a luscious Amaretti-Almond streusel, this pie is bursting with flavor and texture.
Wilson, who loves to cook everything, but has an affinity for decadent desserts, says her recipes are for anyone who is interested in the art of baking.
"I'm self-taught," says Wilson. "I grew up in a family with a mother and father who loved to cook. Everything was from scratch and authentic international ingredients. I didn't realize that this was educating my palate. You can do this."
Her recipe is easy as pie and straight from her recently published dessert cookbook, Unforgettable Desserts (Wiley, Hardcover, October 2009i, $29.99).
Amaretto-Almond Crunch Pumpkin Pie
serves 8 to 10
To use current parlance, my BFF is a fabulous woman named Juanita Plimpton. She is not a cook—but she is an amazing taster and is able to consistently give me extremely helpful critiques. On one occasion she provided me with an entire concept. “Why not,” she asked, “create a pumpkin pie with the flavors of almond and amaretto?” I never would have come up with this myself—and she was right. This is sensational in flavor as well as texture. Picture a fairly classic pumpkin pie flavored with a shot of amaretto liqueur, topped with a crunchy blend of amaretti cookies and almonds—almost a streusel. The juxtaposition of creamy pumpkin custard and ultracrisp topping is unexpected and exciting.
20 Lazzaroni Amaretti di Saronno cookies
¼ cup blanched sliced almonds
1 recipe Double Butter Piecrust (recipe below), chilled and ready to roll out
One 15-ounce can pure solid-pack pumpkin
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons Disaronno Amaretto
For the topping: Crumble the cookies by hand into a small bowl. The pieces should be about ¼-inch chunks, more or less. Toss with the almonds; set aside.
1 ) Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 1¼-inch tempered glass pie plate with nonstick spray.
2 ) Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer to the pie dish. Fold the edge under, and crimp decoratively into a high border. Line with foil and weights and blind-bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until just beginning to color. Remove the foil and weights. Bake until the crust is tinged very light brown, pressing with the back of a fork if the crust bubbles, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
For the filling: scrape the pumpkin into a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment. Process for 15 seconds; scrape down the sides and process for 15 seconds more. Pulse in the brown sugar, spices, and salt until combined. Pulse in the eggs one at a time until blended, scraping down once or twice if necessary. Pulse in the cream and liqueur. Finish off by processing for 5 seconds to smooth out the mixture. Pour the filling into the crust. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the filling is set around the edges, and quivers in the center when you gently shake the pie dish. Cool the pie plate on a rack. The pie is best served the day it is made.
Store at room temperature, loosely covered with foil.
After years of making piecrust in a variety of ways I have come to prefer an all-butter crust made in the food processor with ice water. The flavor is exceptional, and since the metal blade is so sharp and fast, it cuts the chilled butter in quickly, yielding a flaky textured crust. The proportions are quite typical, and if you do not have a food processor, feel free to make it by hand. In either case take care not to overwork it.
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water
To make with a food processor:
Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse on and off until it forms a very coarse meal; there might be pockets of butter that are larger, which is fine. Drizzle in the smaller amount of water through the feed tube and pulse until the dough is moistened and just holds together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary.
To make by hand:
Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Add the butter and cut in, using a pastry blender or two knives, until the fat is cut into approximately ⅛-inch pieces. Sprinkle the smaller amount of water over the flour mixture and toss with fingers or a fork until evenly moistened and the dough just holds together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary.
To continue for either technique:
Gather the dough into one or two balls and flatten into a disk or disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. It may also be frozen for 1 month, in which case, protect it further by placing in a
zipper-top bag; defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.