Homemade is Better—Pumpkin Pie Filling

Thanksgiving is upon us, and all the retailers have been shoving pumpkin spice everything down our throats Pumpkin season is here! Even though some were doing it as far back as June.  So is pre-Christmas, but that’s another article!  I have to come clean, I don’t like pumpkin pie, or, at least, I would choose almost any other flavour before it.  But the last time I made pumpkin pie from scratch it was the best pumpkin pie I’d ever had.  I realize that my personal bias of my cooking is likely coming out, but I’ll bet you’ll agree.

Do your taste buds a favour this year, and make it from scratch.  It’s going to take more time than if you buy a can of filling, but I bet you didn’t know that the cans of filling do not actually have to contain real pumpkin—and often they don’t!   I’m sure you’re both perplexed and enraged if you’re a pumpkin pie fan; “What does he mean they don’t have to contain real pumpkins!?”

The truth is, pumpkin doesn’t mean anything.  Pumpkins are classified in a few different ways.  They are a berry and, like other squash, grown from a flowering plant.  The technical name for what we call pumpkins is Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita argyrosperma, and Cucurbita moschata.  C. moschata is the squash of choice here and can include gourdes like the Boston Marrow, Hubbard, butternut, and Golden Delicious.  These do not sound like the word pumpkin.  But, do not fear!  I have a solution that is 100% pumpkin.

Like many berries, the smaller version can be sweeter due to the concentration of sugars in a small area.  In the case of pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins, this is true.  The best part is, this is an easy recipe compared to the crust! Grab your best pie crust, or buy your favourite for this time.  I’ll give you a great pie crust recipe as we lead up to American Thanksgiving over the next few weeks! I’m not from the United States, but I’ll celebrate a turkey holiday twice if it means I get more pie!

So, follow along as I give you the best pumpkin pie filling I’ve ever made!

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Ingredients:

1 sugar pumpkin (also called a pie pumpkin)
1 cup of heavy cream (half and half will also do)
½ tsp Kosher salt
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk

Directions:
  • Clean the outside of the pumpkin.
  • Preheat your oven to 400F.
  • Cut off the pumpkin’s stem, then cut it in half from the stem to the bottom, not across the sides. Scoop out the insides and save the seeds if you like pumpkin seeds, but that’s a different recipe.
  • Lay the halves flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  • Cook for 20-30 minutes. You want to be able to pierce it with a pairing knife and not have any resistance.
  • Let the pumpkin cool completely, then scoop the insides into a mixing bowl or a food processor.
  • Mash the pulp until it is smooth. The puree will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a week, or you can freeze it.
  • For the pie, preheat your oven to 350F.
  • Add the spices, brown sugar, eggs, and salt.
  • Continue mixing until these are well incorporated.
  • Add the cream and mix until smooth.
  • Pour the filling into a 9” pie crust just until it reaches ¼” from the top. It will expand in the oven, and you don’t want it to overflow.
  • Cook for 45-60 minutes. The center should still jiggle like Jell-O, but the outer edges shouldn’t move.
  • Once the pie is done, let it rest for at least 3 hours before serving. Overnight is ok too; just wait for it to completely cool on the counter, then place plastic wrap on it to keep it from drying out.
  • Slice it up, add some whipped cream and viola!
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