Bored of Pumpkin Pie? Try This Tasty Alternative for Thanksgiving Dinner

neurotic baker butternut squash pie

Photo: Courtesy of Neurotic Baker

I have a friend who loves pies. I think if he could eat one pie a day and never gain weight, he would be a happy man. He has also nominated me to be his chief pie maker, which is a bit of an honor and a curse. The pressure is always on for me to make something spectacular.

With Thanksgiving rolling around, he hinted (read: asked) that I make a pumpkin pie for dinner. His wife is more of a pecan pie gal, so I thought I’d make “his and her” pies. Unfortunately, I used the last of my pumpkin for the scones and whoopie pies.

I found a recipe in the New York Times that suggested butternut squash if you wanted to go the fresh vs. canned route. This sounded super interesting to me, so I thought I’d try it. Honestly, I’ve never been much of a pumpkin pie fan. I always grew up with sweet potato and always thought of pumpkin as the rejected stepsister. Now that I’m older, I love both.

I set out to the market to get the ingredients for the butternut squash pie. The plan was to keep it a secret that I was using butternut squash until my friend tasted it, then boom!

I used my tried and true pie crust recipe and roasted the squash while the crust was chilling. I didn’t have a blender (something that I’m starting to miss terribly) and pureed the squash in the food processor instead. The filling came out nice and creamy. The crust turned out OK, but just OK. For something so simple, it’s very temperamental. I wish someone would put together a pie crust retreat. I would totally go.

Also, I baked the pie in a glass dish. My friend, the pie lover, has convinced me that metal pans are the way to go with pies, and honestly, I’d have to agree with him. The last few pies I’ve made with his pans have turned out wonderfully.

My friend took one bite of the pie and shouted “squash!” I should’ve known better than to try to get away with anything. He said it reminded him of the pies he grew up with in Oregon that his aunt used to make. They always used butternut squash instead of pumpkin. Also, the brandy added a nice nutty quality without being boozy.

Ingredients
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
For the filling:

1 ¾ cups squash purée
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch ground clove

Instructions

To make the crust:
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
  2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork, then chill crust for 30 minutes.
  5. While the dough chills, heat oven to 375 degrees. Prick the crust lightly with a fork, line chilled crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried rice. Bake for 20 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool on rack until needed.
To make the filling:
  1. Peel, halve, and seed a 2 ½ to 3-pound squash and cut flesh into 1 ½-inch chunks. Coat with melted butter or oil and roast at 400 degrees, stirring once or twice, until the squash is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool, then purée in a food processor.
  2. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the butternut squash purée, eggs, cream, dark brown sugar, brandy, ginger, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, the nutmeg and clove. Pour mixture into the cooled pie shell. Transfer pie to a large baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden and center jiggles just slightly when shaken, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
neurotic baker butternut squash pie

Photo: Courtesy of Neurotic Baker

Adapted from  New York Times.

Cheryl Vivian is a neurotic baker who came to D.C. via Detroit, Chicago, and New York City. She likes to get nerdy about baking, and there are at least two dozen eggs, four pounds of butter, and a quart of buttermilk in her fridge at all times. She doesn’t cry over burnt cookies, sunken cakes, or tough pie dough, but she will try (and try) until it’s just right. Cheryl loves to blend new trends with traditional recipes and believes that everything is better with a pinch of salt. Follow along on Instagram at @cherylvivian.

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