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Ginger pumpkin pie designates different holiday

Yes, Thanksgiving will look different this year.

And because we’re missing much-loved faces around the holiday table, the menu looks different, too.

Nostalgia aside, I simply can’t conscience preparing every family-favorite dish that my mom has produced each Thanksgiving for nearly two decades running. It’s simply too much food for four people, and some of the richly sauced, sugar-laden specialties simply don’t hold the allure for me, my partner and kids that they do for an older generation.

So we’ll dispense with the green bean casserole, the sweet potato praline casserole, the 24-hour fruit salad and the pecan pie for this year’s feast, focusing instead on the basics and limiting the dessert course to a single selection.

And with not a few traditional dishes going by the wayside, I’m seriously considering shaking up the classic pumpkin pie with this ginger-spiked recipe that incorporates the praline crunch of our forfeit casserole. There’s no better time to break with tradition, after all, than in a year when any protest is voiced by just a couple of people.

My partner, who also loves ginger, isn’t likely to be among the dissenters. And I have a strong suspicion that I could win my kids’ affections with this crunchy cookie topping.

Included with this Tribune News Service recipe is one for pie dough whipped up the food processor, but I condone the use of boxed pie dough when time is short and refrigerator space tight.

If you do make your own crust, allow an hour for the dough to rest in the refrigerator and consider blind-baking it a day in advance and storing in a cool place.

Ginger Praline Pumpkin Pie

Pie dough (recipe follows)

2 large eggs

1 can (30 ounces; or two 15-ounce cans) pumpkin pie mix (with sugar and spices)

1/2 teaspoon each ground: cinnamon, ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger, about 1 1/2 ounces

1 cup roughly chopped or broken ginger snap cookies, about 2 ounces or 12 cookies

Whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 425 F. Roll the pie dough between 2 sheets of floured wax paper to an 11-inch circle. Remove top sheet of paper. Use bottom sheet to help you flip dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Gently ease dough into pan, without stretching it; roll edge of dough under so it sits neatly on edge of pie dish; flatten attractively with a fork.

Line bottom of pie crust with a sheet of foil; fill foil with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove beans using foil to lift them out of crust. Return pie crust to oven; bake until light golden in color, for about 2 minutes. Cool. (Crust can be prebaked up to 1 day in advance; store in a cool, dry place.)

Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. For filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin mix, cinnamon, ginger and cloves until smooth. Whisk in the cream and rum or vanilla.

For topping, mix the soft butter and brown sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in the crystallized ginger; gently stir in the cookies to coat them with butter mixture.

Carefully pour pie filling into cooled crust. Set pie pan on a baking sheet; slide into center of oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove pie from oven. Gently distribute topping evenly around outer rim of pie, near crust. Return pie to oven; bake until a knife inserted near center is withdrawn clean, for about 40 more minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serve cold or at room temperature with the whipped cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Pie Dough

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, very cold

1/4 cup trans-fat free vegetable shortening, frozen

Put the flour, sugar and salt into bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix well. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces; sprinkle them over flour mixture. Pulse to blend fats into flour. Mixture will look like coarse crumbs.

Put ice cubes into about 1/4 cup water and let water chill. Remove ice cubes and drizzle about 3 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Briefly pulse machine just until mixture gathers into a dough.

Dump mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper. Gather into a ball. Flatten ball into a thick disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, for about 1 hour. (Dough will keep in refrigerator for several days.)

Tribune News Service