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Pumpkin Chess Pie

At a party the other day, a friend asked us if there were any trends in pies this year. The only thing I could come up with was that chess pies have made something of a comeback. Not that they've ever gone away. This is basically why I'm not into trends--I like what I like, so for me chess pie has never been out of style.

Chess pie is really just a basic custard--eggs, sugar, cream. Some authorities claim that in order for it to be a chess pie, it must contain a little cornmeal and vinegar. I appreciate this, but I've never been a good absolutist, so I often omit those components from my chess pies. One of the reasons I like this simple pie so much is that there are endless riffs you can do on the original. There's maple pie, honey pie, buttermilk chess pie, chocolate chess pie, and even the Crack Pie of Momofuku fame. Yep--basically just a chess pie.

So it occurred to me, why not make a pumpkin chess pie? This turned out to be a very good idea. Then we served it topped with whiskey whipped cream, which was an even better idea. I mean, when is whiskey a bad idea? At least, it always seems like a good idea...

I won't make any big pronouncements like, "BEST PUMPKIN PIE EVER" or "Your guests will keel over with joy when they taste this pie," but it's very delicious. I wouldn't share it here if I didn't think it was delicious. I appreciate that it's this simple, classic American dessert that can wear many hats. Flexible, easygoing recipes are my favorites, especially during times like Thanksgiving, when there's so much going on that I don't have time for a lot of fuss.

As always, I recommend making your own pie crust, but if you can find a decent store bought one and that simplifies your life, go for it. This pie can be made a day ahead of time and kept refrigerated, or you can make it several weeks in advance and freeze it. Just remove it to thaw in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Other pumpkin desserts you might enjoy: Pumpkin-Maple Pie With a Buckwheat Crust, "Pumpkin" Pie, Pumpkin Buttermilk Pudding

Pumpkin Chess Pie
Serves 8 to 10

Prepare and chill:
           1/2 recipe All-Butter Crust
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a pie dish. Trim any overhanging edges and crimp the crust as desired. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Prick the crust all over with a fork, line the dough with parchment, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges of the crust start to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and bake until the bottom of the crust is dry to the touch and light golden brown, about 10 minutes more.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together:
           1 cup pumpkin puree (or you could use sweet potato or winter squash puree)
           2/3 cup buttermilk or heavy cream
           1/2 cup granulated sugar
           1/2 cup packed brown sugar
           6 tablespoons melted butter
           3 eggs
           1/2 teaspoon salt
Pour the filling into the crust and bake until the edges of the pie are set but the center still jiggles slightly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Refrigerate. Serve with Whiskey Whipped Cream, below.

Whiskey Whipped Cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine:
           1 cup heavy cream
           2 tablespoons powdered sugar
           1 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey
Whip on medium-high speed until fluffy.

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