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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday Pie Primer

Just a quick post today on our favorite holiday pies to give you something to think about and one recipe solution.

My favorite Thanksgiving pie is pumpkin and my kids wouldn't consider it Thanksgiving without it. They particularly think one of my sisters has to make it to be good. That may be due to the pumpkin pie I made a few years ago at my mother-in-law's house one Thanksgiving. My husband's family doesn't make pumpkin pies and one Thanksgiving I was horrified to be served lemon meringue pie (!?). Not even that other holiday favorite, pecan pie but a lemon pie! The next time I was in Natchez I decided to take matters into my own hands and bake a pumpkin pie. I whipped up the pie in no time and it was served with the other desserts. However, it left alot to be desired. Something was wrong. I reread the recipe, this time with my glasses on, and discovered I had added only 1/4 cup of sugar instead of 3/4 cup! Now I cut back on sugar intentionally in recipes but never by that much. Lesson learned: wear the reading glasses.

Something to think about this holiday season: pecan pie is one of the worst pies you can eat for calories, sugar and fat. A 1/8 slice of pecan pie has about 450 calories and 21 grams of fat. It's even worse if you top it with ice cream. A 1/8 slice of pumpkin has 230 calories and 15 grams of fat, making it a better choice. If you top your pie at all, try a golf ball size dollop of whip cream instead of ice cream and save more calories.

Since a good bit of fat and calories in any pie comes from the crust, I'm offering this pumpkin creme brulee recipe. My family was surprised to find it just as good, especially since I didn't screw up the ingredients. Give it a try this holiday season and prove you can have your pie and eat it too.

Pumpkin Creme Brulee
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Beat the eggs and 3/4 cup of sugar till well blended. Stir in the pumpkin, then the salt and spices and finally the half and half.
Pour into a shallow baking dish that holds 4 cups, such as a straight sided pie pan.
Bake at 325 for 60 minutes or until set and a knife comes out clean. Cool in the refrigerator several hours.
Just before serving, preheat oven on broil. Mix the brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. sugar and sprinkle evenly over custard. Place under broiler, about 6 inches away from the elements and heat until the sugar bubbles and is caramelized. Watch closely as this only takes a few minutes. Serve immediately.