Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust and Meringue

This, my friends, is one serious pie. If I were smart, I would have cut this into very small wedges to be savored. But I didn’t. Thanksgiving day exists in a place outside any concern for calorie counts or cardio workouts. For one day (okay, one LONG weekend), I eat all of the delicious foods of the season and revel in the holiday treats. So don’t feel too bad if you eat this pie, as I really do think it is worth the calories.

I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but I loved this one. The gingersnaps make for a great sweet/salty crust that balances perfectly against the creamy pumpkin custard. I add some almonds to the crust for a nice toasty flavor, and they add a nice chewiness to the crust. If you’re using gluten-free gingersnaps, I highly recommend using Pamela’s Ginger Mini Snapz for this recipe – I did you the favor of testing all of the gluten-free ginger cookies on the market, and these were the crunchiest and spiciest, and I like the molasses in them. Most Whole Foods stores carry them.

And if the decadence of a cookie crust and rich custard aren’t enough for you, why not pile on a meringue topping, right?! Meringue is a tasty trick not pulled out of the pastry hat nearly enough. It can stand in for whipped cream, but the toasted, creamy texture of the meringue is a beautiful thing…and is definitely the healthiest part of this pie.

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust and Meringue Topping serves 8
Inspired by Closet Cooking

1 1/2 cups gluten-free Pamela’s gingersnap cookie crumbs (pulverized in the food processor)
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter (melted)

Directions for crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Pour the gingersnap cookies into a food processor and pulverize into crumbs – I used the entire package of Pamela’s gingersnaps. Pour the crumbs into a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup raw almonds into the food processor bowl and pulverize until the almonds are finely ground, then pour into the mixing bowl with the gingersnaps.
  4. Mix the gingersnap crumbs, sugar, ginger and melted butter in a bowl.
  5. Press the mixture into the bottom of a springform pan. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumbs down in an even layer, and to help get into the corners.
  6. Bake the crust for about 12 minutes, making sure to put a sheet pan under the springform pan in case of dripping (or your kitchen will fill with smoke like mine did – oops!).
  7. While the crust bakes, make the filling.

Pie Filling:
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
8oz evaporated milk

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into the pre-baked pie shell, and then bake for 35-45 minutes, until the custard has set and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the filling. Remove from the oven, and allow the pie to totally cool before making the meringue topping.

Meringue Topping
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
pinch of salt.

  1. You can top the pumpkin pie with meringue a few hours before serving, but you don’t want to do it a day in advance – the meringue will get tough.
  2. Preheat the broiler. Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, whip the mixture on high speed until the whites get glossy, white and form stiff peaks when swirled with a spoon – it will take about 5-7 minutes of whipping, so be patient. Just when you think it’s not gonna happen, the whites are magically transformed into meringue.
  3. Spoon the meringue over the top of the pie, making a nice thick layer. Use the back of a spoon to make some sexy swirls and waves in the meringue. Place the pie under the broiler for 5-7 minutes, until the top is toasted and the meringue is set. Watch it carefully – don’t leave the stove, as it can burn quite easily.
  4. Serve the pie at room temperature.

479 cal per slice, 160cal from fat, 23.1g fat, 85mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 230mg potassium, 51g carbs, 2g fiber, 40g sugars, 9.6g protein

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

I have to make a confession. As much as I love the foods of the fall harvest season, I am incredibly picky about the squash I eat. I love butternut, delicata and spaghetti squash. I do NOT love pumpkin and acorn squash, and I struggle to use them up every time they appear in my CSA box. Which makes me feel bad, since Kevin seems to love the pie pumpkins so much. I usually end up feeding half the squash we receive to the dog, as he has seasonal allergies, and some roasted squash puree helps his tummy out a lot.

Earlier this week, Kevin posted a recipe for pumpkin black bean soup, and I thought this was something I could get behind, as is seemed a straight-forward black bean soup with some pumpkin puree added for some body in the soup. And I have to agree with Kevin, that the finished soup is excellent. It has all the zing of my typical spicy black bean soup, but the pumpkin adds a nice earthy, grounding note to the finished soup. Give it a try!

Pumpkin and black bean soup
Adapted from Closet Cooking

serves 6

1 T oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 banana peppers, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ground cumin
1 T chipotle puree
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups roasted pumpkin puree
1 (19 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dry Sherry (or dry white wine)
1 handful cilantro (chopped, optional)
1 cup diced lean ham (optional)
1 handful toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven
  2. Add the onions, carrots and banana peppers and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the broth, pumpkin, black beans, tomatoes and sherry and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and puree to the desired consistency – I like my bean soups to stay pretty chunky, so I only puree with my immersion blender for a minute or so. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Add the diced ham (if using).
  7. Serve garnished with cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds.

344 cal/serving; 60cal from fat, 6.4g fat, 20mg cholesterol, 770 mg sodium, 960mg potassum, 52g carbs, 13g fiber, 20g protein

Getting Ready for Turkey: Pumpkin Custard

I set out this morning to make something a bit different than the typical pumpkin pie. What resulted was a gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin custard. I had three small pie pumpkins in my fridge, so I roasted those up, and made pumpkin puree…though you do not need to go to the lengths of making your own puree, canned will do as well.

The finished custard is lighter than traditional pumpkin pie (no crust!), and the coconut milk adds a creamy sweetness that balances with the pumpkin flavors well. It has all the flavors of the holidays, and none of the gluten that would make me sick!

Pumpkin Custard
Serves 8

4 Weight Watchers Points per serving (without garnishes)

2 cups pumpkin puree (homeade or canned)
2-3 T pumpkin pie spice, to taste (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T maple syrup
1 T vanilla
1 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt

Garnish: toasted pecans & whipped cream

To make your own puree:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice 2-3 small pie pumpkins in half, and clean out the guts. Rinse the seeds and set them aside for roasting later. Grate nutmeg over the flesh of the pumpkins, place upside down in a sheet pan or roasting pan. Fill the pan with 1/2″ water, to help keep the pumpkins moist. Roast the pumpkins for 60 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the flesh. Remove from oven, and allow to cool.
  2. Scoop the pumpkin out, and place in a food processor, and puree. If the puree is soupy, place the puree in a medium sized pot, and heat over med-low heat. Add spices, salt. brown sugar and maple syrup, and cook for 10-20 minutes, stirring often, until puree has reduced to desired thickness. Let cool to room temperature.

Making the custard:

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add pumpkin puree and stir. If using canned pumpkin, add salt, spices and brown sugar and maple syrup. Stir. Add coconut milk, and stir. Pour into a square 9×9″ pyrex and bake for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce head to 350 and bake for another 45-50 minutes, until custard is set, but still a litlte wobbly in the middle – just like pumpkin pie. Cool and enjoy!
  2. Garnish with toasted pecans and whipped cream, if desired.