Around for centuries, this silky holiday pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving pie. My whiskey-flavored Pumpkin Pie gives the traditional dessert an elevated flavor.
I have to confess that I don’t usually make pumpkin pie for my family’s Thanksgiving. I did not grow up with it, so it is not in my usual dessert rotation.
Somehow, I have served all kinds of different pies at every Thanksgiving I have hosted, except pumpkin pie.
One year I served Cranberry Custard Pie with Cream Cheese Crust,
and then another year, I served this Apple and Berries Pie.
Then one year, when I didn’t feel like baking another pie, I made this No-Bake Cheesecake with Berries. All beautiful recipes, but as you can see, none had pumpkin.
My daughter, the ever-protesting food critic, demanded that I make pumpkin pie because you cannot have Thanksgiving without it.
Remember the one year when I told her I wasn’t making cheesy potatoes, and she threatened not to come home for Thanksgiving? She has some strong opinions.
So, I decided to do a little research while figuring out how to make this quintessential Thanksgiving pie my own.
What is the history of pumpkin pie?
The most traditional recipe Americans have found on LIBBY’S® Pumpkin can label since 1950 and is considered the gold standard of pumpkin pie taste.
According to Bon Appétit magazine, LIBBY’S® started as Libby, McNeill & Libby, a canned meat company in Chicago in the late 1800s. Then in the 1920s, they started caning pumpkin, and the rest was history. Now the company produces 85 percent of canned pumpkin in the US.
Before LIBBY’S® Pumpkin, you had to break down and clean the pumpkin, roast it, mash it and then use it in your recipes. That’s how my mom would make the Romanian version of pumpkin pie.
That version is entirely different than what you would find in American households. It is chunkier and resembles my Apple Slab Pie recipe.
But how did pumpkin pie become a Thanksgiving tradition?
Apparently, in 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale published a novel, Northwood, which listed pumpkin pie as part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. This was due to a popular recipe for a pumpkin pudding in Amelia Simmons’s 1796 American Cookery, one of the first American cookbooks.
The recipe called for pumpkin, milk, molasses, eggs, ginger, and allspice.
Now, if you google “pumpkin pie,” the first recipe that pops up is the one on LIBBY’S® Pumpkin can, and for a good reason. It is easy to make, well-loved, and people will get upset if you change it too much.
However, many of us feel that sometimes we need to break the rules a little bit, so this is where my version comes in. A little different from the original but still traditional enough that you don’t feel like you have offended the traditionalists.
How do you make Pumpkin Pie flavored with whiskey?
First, personally, I’m not too fond of the pre-made pie crusts from the store. So, I always try to make my own.
Just like in my recipe for Celtic Pork Mince Pie, I use the recipe from Eric Lanlard’s “Tart It Up” book because his instructions are easy to follow, and he uses simple ingredients. In that post, you will also find instructions on how to roll your pies crust.
If you don’t have time to make your own, store-bought will work just as well, but make sure it is not overly processed.
Your crust should be rolled out into a 12-inch round and then carefully loaded into a 9-inch pie plate.
Combine the heavy cream, whiskey, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for the filling.
Please bring it to a simmer and then transfer it to a mixing bowl to cool slightly. Then whisk in the can of pumpkin puree, eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.
After you blind bake the crust until dry and golden all over, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Discard the cinnamon stick from the filling, pour it into your cooled crust, and then return to the oven.
Bake it until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown, or for about an hour.
Should you blind bake the pie crust in pumpkin pie?
My short answer is yes! Some people don’t, but I find that by blind baking the crust, you’re making sure that the wet filling does not prevent the bottom of your pie from cooking.
How do I blind bake pie crust?
Line your pie dough with parchment paper or foil, covering the bottom and up the sides, and then fill it with pie weights or dried beans, lentils, or rice. We had dried lentils when I first made the pie, so that’s what I used.
How do I know when my pumpkin pie is done?
You can insert a knife near the center of the pie, and if it comes out clean, it is done. This method might crack the pie and leave a hole, so instead, gently shake the pie. The pie should jiggle, not wiggle, and look set in the middle.
Remember, pumpkin pie is custard, and it will continue to cook as it cools. Don’t fret if it is still a little jiggly when you take it out.
How do I keep my crust from getting too brown?
My pumpkin pie cracked!
That’s ok! It sometimes happens if you over-bake it. To avoid over-baking, I check it after 45 minutes and then every 5 minutes until it is no longer wobbly.
If you see that it cracked, you can always cover it up with beautiful pie crust decorations.
Decorations on the pie:
I like to add decorations before the pie sets completely.
After the 40-minutes mark in the oven, I take the pie out of the oven, add some handmade decorations using the leftover pie crust and brush the decorations with a little bit of egg.
After that, I return the pie to the oven for another 20-25 minutes until the decorations are golden brown. Of course, you can play with all kinds of cookie cutters and tools you might have in the kitchen to obtain beautiful patterns on your delicious pie.
Suggestions for other Thanksgiving recipes:
- 1 pie crust(9 inches -store bought or home made)
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Put a baking sheet on the middle oven rack and preheat to 425 degrees F.
- Blind bake the crust until the crust is dry and golden all over.
- Once golden, transfer the pie tin to a rack and let it cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- Combine the heavy cream, whiskey or bourbon, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. In a large bowl, let it cool.
- Whisk in the pumpkin, eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Discard the cinnamon stick from the filling and then pour it into the cooled crust.
- Return the pie to the oven, and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.
- If you want to add decorations, after 40 minutes, take out the pie and then add your pie-crust decorations on top of the pie and return to the oven until baked fully.
- Let it cool completely before cutting into it because the pumpkin custard will continue cooking as it cools.
- To blind bake, line your pie dough with parchment paper or foil, covering the bottom and up the sides, and then fill it with pie weights, or dried beans, lentils or rice.
- If your crust is getting too brown, either use a pie crust shield, or make a foil ring.
- You will know the pie is done when the filling jiggles, not wiggles and looks set in the middle. Also, pumpkin pie is a custard, and it will continue to cooking as it cools, so let it cool completely before cutting into it.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 398Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 134mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 5g