Neil’s Brandied Pumpkin Pie (makes one 10” pie)
Neil is my oldest sibling and a brilliantly funny fellow. Singlehandedly, he is the one responsible for creating uncontrollable fits of laughter around the dining room table. On more than one occasion, my sister and I were asked to excuse ourselves; it’s hard to eat dinner when you are laughing so hard you are crying. Thanks, Neil.
For the crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
4 tablespoons of ice water (you may need an additional 1½ teaspoons of ice water)
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter to the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Empty this into a large bowl. Combine 3 tablespoons of ice water with the cider vinegar and drizzle this over the flour mixture. Gently stir with a fork, or your fingers, adding the additional 1½ teaspoons of water if needed, until the mixture forms a shaggy dough. Gather the dough together and shape it into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to roll the dough, let it sit at room temperature to soften just a bit so it’s cool but not cold. Lightly dust a sheet of parchment paper with flour, roll the dough into a circle about 14” in diameter and about ⅛” thick. Gently transfer the dough to a 10” pie plate. Carefully lift the outer edges of the dough so there is a bit of slack lining the sides of the pie plate. You do not want to stretch the dough. Trim the overhang of dough to an inch from the rim of the pan. Roll the dough under itself and crimp the edges. Chill the shell for 30 minutes. (You can also cover it with plastic wrap and chill it overnight.)
For the filling: (adapted from Gourmet magazine 1992)
Turn your oven on to 375 degrees while you prepare the filling.
2 cups pumpkin (I use canned)
⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
⅔ cup milk
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
¼ cup Cognac or brandy
In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add the heavy cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and Cognac. Whisk just until the filling is smooth and pour the filling into the chilled pie shell. Set on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is set but the center jiggles slightly. The pie will continue to set as it cools. Place the pie on a rack to cool completely.
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