We all know the makings for our ideal Thanksgiving spread, and that the creamy, crumbly goodness of pumpkin pie serves as the perfect punctuation at the end of an ultimately indulgent day. But why not take your final course from satisfying to show-stopping?

These alternative takes on classic pumpkin pie will make slipping in that extra piece (or two) a little more justifiable.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie

For the crust:

25 2-inch gingersnap cookies

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ cup unsalted butter

For the filling:

15 ounces pumpkin puree

1½ cups heavy cream

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon all spice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

For the meringue:

4 egg whites, at room temperature

½ cup sugar

Pinch of cream of tartar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse cookies until they are finely ground and no large pieces remain. Add the sugar, cinnamon and salt and pulse once or twice to combine. Pour the melted butter over top and pulse an additional 10 seconds until all of the butter is incorporated. Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch pie dish and press firmly and evenly along the sides and bottom. Place the crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, cream, eggs, sugar, spices and salt. Whisk until fully incorporated.

Remove the crust from the freezer and place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45-50 minutes until the edges are firm but the center is still a bit wobbly. Cool completely and chill before topping with the meringue.

Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk by hand until combined and set over a simmering pot of water, making sure the surface of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and place the bowl on the mixer stand fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium high until stiff peaks form.

Pile the meringue on top of the chilled pie. Use a kitchen torch to brown the top of the meringue, or place the pie under the broiler in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

— Recipe by Maria Nelson

 

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

For the cornmeal crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

1½ cups heavy cream

1 (15-ounce) can solid pack pumpkin

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon salt

For the crust, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until incorporated.

Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, while pulsing, until a ball forms. Remove and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 14-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch pie pan, and crimp excess dough around the edges of the pan. Chill at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare the filling, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; gently stir until sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup becomes a deep golden color, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly and carefully whisk in warm cream.

Combine pumpkin, eggs, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a bowl; whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the now-tepid caramel mixture until smooth. Pour into the bottom of a Cornmeal Butter Crust. Bake on a baking sheet until the filling is just set, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 1 hour. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.

— Recipe by David Bonom

 

Coconut and Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust

30 hard crisp gingersnap cookies (about 1½ cups crumbs)

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes in syrup, drained and mashed

¾ cup solid pack pumpkin

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

¾ cup coconut milk

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, divided

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine cookies and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in butter and mix until well blended. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch glass pie pan. Bake 5 minutes; remove from oven and let cool.

To prepare filling, combine mashed sweet potatoes, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and salt in a bowl; whisk until smooth. Sprinkle ½ cup of the coconut flakes into the bottom of the cooled crust. Gently pour pumpkin mixture over coconut. Bake on a baking sheet until the filling is just set, 60 to 65 minutes. (Note: If the crust around the edges of the pie begins to get too brown, loosely cover the edges with aluminum foil.)

While pie bakes, place remaining ½ cup coconut in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Remove pie from oven and set on a wire rack. Immediately sprinkle with cooled toasted coconut and let pie cool 1 hour. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.

— Recipe by David Bonom

 

Pear and Cranberry Pumpkin Pie

1 cornmeal crust (see Caramel Pumpkin Pie recipe)

3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, halved, cored and coarsely chopped

¼ cup red wine or port

½ cup turbinado or brown sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup water

1 (15-ounce) can solid pack pumpkin

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon salt

To prepare pear topping, combine pears with wine, sugar, lemon juice and nutmeg in a 9-inch skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, 10 minutes. (Pears will be firm, but tender.) Remove from heat and set aside. Rehydrate cranberries in ¼ cup water. Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare filling, combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs, heavy cream, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a bowl; whisk until smooth. Pour into the bottom of cornmeal crust. Bake on a baking sheet 55 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon pear topping over top of pie. Drain cranberries and sprinkle over top. Return pie to oven and bake until filling is just set, about 25 minutes.

Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool 1 hour. Chill 3 hours before serving.

— Recipe by David Bonom

 

Butternut Squash Pumpkin Pie

For the filling:

1 small butternut squash (approx. 1-1⁄3 lbs)

½ cup heavy cream

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of fine sea salt

2 large eggs

Freshly grated nutmeg

For the crust:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons almond flour, heaping

2 tablespoons tablespoons superfine sugar, heaping

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced

1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350. Prick the squash all over using a fine skewer, place it in a baking dish, and bake for 1 hour. Turn oven up to 375.

To make the crust, process flours, sugar and butter to a fine crumb-like consistency in a food processor. Add egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of water and process briefly to bring dough together in a soft ball. Press the pastry onto the base and sides of an 8-inch tart pan with a removable base, 1 inch deep. Level the surface by laying a sheet of plastic wrap over the top and smoothing it out with your fingers, taking it very slightly higher than the rim of the pan. Trim the rim using a knife to neaten it or smooth it using a teaspoon.

Place pan on a baking sheet. Cut the squash open, discard any seeds, and scoop out 1 cup of flesh. Place the flesh in a food processor with all the ingredients for the filling, except the nutmeg, and process to a smooth cream. Pour into the pastry shell and grate on a liberal dusting of nutmeg.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly golden and set; it may wobble slightly but will firm as it cools and chills. Set aside to cool and then loosely cover with foil and chill for at least a couple of hours. It will keep well in the fridge for several days.

— Excerpted from “Annie Bell’s Baking Bible” by Annie Bell