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New Twists on Thanksgiving Favorites: Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie

Last week, I taught two baking classes: How to make pie from scratch with the theme: “New Twists on Thanksgiving Favorites.”  I chose to make Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie because those are MY two favorite pies for Thanksgiving.

Creating a new twist on Pecan Pie was easy: pecan pie always tastes better with chocolate (doesn’t everything?!), and I added a little bourbon, as well–a common addition to Pecan Pie.

Pumpkin Pie was a little trickier because it tastes so good as is, I didn’t want to completely change the flavor profile or it would be “alienating” to people: no one would want to stray too far from our fond memories of Pumpkin Pie as the quintessential dessert at Thanksgiving feasts.

I have tried recipes that add cream cheese to the pumpkin pie filling, and I admit that I like the flavor combination of pumpkin and cream cheese together.  However, it seems like those flavors work better together in a cheesecake than in a pie [a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving would be a fabulous dessert if you are looking for something different!].

In the end, I only added a few subtle flavors to enhance the Pumpkin Pie recipe rather than change it completely: a little bit of orange zest–because orange and pumpkin pair nicely together, too–and a bit of spiced dark rum.  The flavors create a pleasant surprise without straying too far from the original.

Here, I share those new twists on Thanksgiving favorites with you.  If you need a good pie crust recipe, I highly recommend the Never Fail Pie Crust.  It’s quick, easy, and true to it’s name: a delicious made-from-scratch pie crust that can’t go wrong.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon liquor
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt butter in a microwave. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs.  Stir in brown sugar, flour, vanilla extract, corn syrup and bourbon until combined. Add butter and stir all to combine. Stir in the pecans and chocolate morsels. Pour mixture into pie shell.
4. Place on a sheet tray and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until pie filling is set in the middle.
5. Remove pie from oven to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Orange-Spice Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

Flaky Pie Crust Dough

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons spiced dark rum or Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under and crimp decoratively. Pierce dough all over with fork.
2. Line crust with parchment paper; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set, about 12 minutes. Remove parchment paper and beans. Bake until crust begins to color, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer crust to rack.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
4. Whisk pumpkin and brown sugar in medium bowl to blend. Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is set in center, about 1 hour.
5. Transfer pie to rack; cool 30 minutes. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)