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Pumpkin, pecan pies in demand on Thanksgiving

Sharing the Thanksgiving duties among family members helps lighten the load — and gives you a chance to show off your culinary skills.

If you’ve been designated chief piemaker, we have a variety of tantalizing recipes to try out this week.

When transporting pies to Grandma’s house, you’ll want to take extra caution. For a pie with a fluted crust, place a piece of double-stick foam tape on a baking sheet, place the pie on top, invert a large bowl over it, then tape the bowl in place.

And don’t forget the whipped cream. Here are some tips:

• Whipping cream whips faster and better if you start with a chilled bowl and chilled beaters.

• To add color and extra flavor to whipped toppings, sprinkle in a little cocoa powder or some honey or a few mashed berries before whipping.

• To tell whether whipped cream has achieved soft peak or stiff peak status, hold the beater horizontally above the whipping. Soft peaks will droop downward. Stiff peaks will cling tightly to the beaters or a whisk and hold an upright shape.

Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Pie

Food & Wine’s Grace Parisi likes to fortify her pumpkin pie with a splash of bourbon. Then she tops it with pumpkins she makes with leftover dough. To create your own decoration, roll out the dough, cut out shapes using a knife or cookie cutter, and bake on a separate sheet. Be sure to watch closely — small pieces bake quickly.

The pie can be made a ahead and be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Let return to room temperature before serving.

This recipe is form “Reinventing the Classics” (Food & Wine, $29.95), edited by Dana Cowin.

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 3 hours, plus cooling

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

To make the dough: In a food processor, pulse the 1 1/4 cups flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are the size of peas. Drizzle in the ice water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pie dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. Fit the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate and trim the overhang to 3/4 inch. Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively, then refrigerate the pie shell for 10 minutes.

Line the pie shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in the center of the oven until nearly set, for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake until the crust is pale golden, for about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

To make the filling : In a medium-size bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves and salt until smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, then the cream and bourbon. Working near the oven, pour the filling into the crust. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the custard is set. Let the pie cool on a rack, then serve.

Makes a 9-inch pie.

Mama’s No-Fail Pecan Pie

This recipe is from “Southern Plate” (William Morrow, $27.50) by Christy Jordan.

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) margarine, melted
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 unbaked pie shell (9 inches)

In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs. Blend in the sugar. Stir in the corn syrup, margarine and pecans, and mix well. Pour into the pie shell and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 300 degrees and bake for 1 hour, or until set in the center.

Makes a 9-inch pie.

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is from Taste of Home magazine. Visit TasteofHome.com/TurkeyDay for more Thanksgiving recipes.

Prep time: 25 minutes

Bake time: 50 minutes, plus cooling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon each ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg
  • 1 unbaked pie shell (9 inches)
  • Whipped cream, optional

In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Whisk in the salt and spices until well blended. Pour into the pie shell.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cover the edges loosely with foil during the last 20 minutes, if necessary. Cool on a wire rack. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired. Refrigerate the leftovers.

Makes a 9-inch pie.

Pumpkin Bee Sting Pie

This version is inspired by bee sting cake from Germany, which has a crunchy honey and almond topping. The recipe is from the Associated Press.

Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (15 minutes active)

  • 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 unbaked pie shell (9 inches)
  • For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-size bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the pumpkin puree, eggs, cream, honey, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Pour into the pie shell and bake until almost completely set at the center, for 50 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping. In a small bowl, combine the almonds and coconut.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey and butter. Heat, stirring often, until the butter is melted. Pour over the almonds and coconut and stir until coated well.

Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle the almond mixture evenly over the top. Return the pie to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Cool before serving.

Makes 8 servings.


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