Pumpkinlicious (part 2)

As mentioned in the previous post, Steph and I baked and pureed a pumpkin. Having a ridiculous amount of pumpkin puree meant we needed to get creative with using most of it up. I had some disposable aluminum mini-tart pans in the cupboard so, spur of the moment decision, we decided to make Mini Pumpkin Ginger Pies.

I have an incredible pie crust recipe thanks to Cooks Illustrated that I’ve been using for several years now. The secret? Ice cold vodka.

Awesome Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 Tablespoon sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons cold vodka
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water

In a food processor, combine 3/4 cup flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse for a few 1-second pulses until combined. Add cold butter and shortening and pulse for about 10 seconds or until dough begins to clump together. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse mixture for an additional few seconds or until the mixture is evenly combined. Pour dough into a medium bowl.

About to add the liquid

Sprinkle the cold water and vodka over the flour mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, press the dough together until the mixture sticks to itself and forms a tacky dough (don’t combine too much, you want the chunks of butter and shortening to remain distinct). Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or until cold.

I doubled this recipe for my 8 mini-pies but this recipe is meant for one pie crust. If you’re making a pie with a dough top (for example, an apple pie) then simply double this recipe and make two 4-inch disks refrigerating.

Once the dough is cold, remove from the refrigerator and roll out on a baking mat. I used the mini pans to measure how much dough to use – cutting out a circle an inch larger than the top of the pan.

Rolling out pie dough

Press the dough into the small pans and store in the freezer to speed up the cooling process. After all eight pans have dough lining them, pull two out at a time, and flute the top of the crust. The trick to delicious flaky pie crust is keeping the dough as cold as possible so the fats remain in chunks in the dough.

Fluting the mini pies
Keeping the pie crust cold in the freezer

After all eight mini-pie pans have cold crust again, cover each crust with foil and add pie weights. You can really use anything oven-safe for pie weights. Dried beans or rice works great and I’ve even used actual rocks before, thanks to my mom’s plethora of tumbled stones in her art studio.

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Remove the foil (with the pie weights) and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until pie crusts are golden brown. Cool.

Pie crusts cooling

Mini-Pumpkin Pies with Ginger Almond Topping:

Disclaimer: Below is how much we actually made. However, it was too much for eight mini-tart pans and we had to quickly whip up a graham cracker crust so we could use up the rest of the filling and make Pumpkin Ginger Bars. I’d recommend either cutting down the filling recipe to three-fourths the size or making 12 mini-pie crusts. It is likely you’ll have enough dough for 12 mini-pies if you double the pie crust recipe above like we did (we had extra dough).

Pumpkin Filling:

  • 4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a food processor, puree the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and salt until smooth.Pour mixture into a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until sputtering and thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Add evaporated milk to pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Then whisk in eggs and vanilla.
Steph adding the evaporated milk

Pour filling into warm pie crusts and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until center barely moves when pies are shaken and the filling edges are cracked. While the pies bake, make the topping.

Filling the pies
Pies baking

Ginger Almond Topping:

  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Combine the almonds, crystallized ginger, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the corn syrup and vanilla, making sure all ingredients are well blended.


Once the pies have cooked as specified above, sprinkle the topping evenly over all the pies. Bake pies for an additional 5-7 minutes or until topping is bubbling. Cool completely.

Sprinkling the topping
Fresh out of the oven

If you so desire, top with a delicious Sweetened Whipping Cream:

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using an electric mixer, blend on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Serve mini-pies with a dollop on top! Bon Appetit!


p.s. Steph also made some delicious pumpkin seeds. Taking the pumpkin seeds that’d been dug out of the pumpkin, the seeds were washed in a colander with cold water to remove as much pumpkin guts as possible.

Before being washed

Next, in a large pot bring 6 cups water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt and then add the pumpkin seeds. Boil the seeds for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the pumpkin seeds on paper towels. Once the seeds are dry, toss in a medium bowl with seasoning:

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Marsala
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Place on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake at 250F for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown in color. Stir seeds at least once while baking. Enjoy!

About to be baked!

For more photos from this pumpkin kitchen adventure, click here.


Pumpkinlicious (part 1)

It’s that time of year again! October – leaves are changing colors and winter squash is plentiful. Fall always seems to creep up on me. It’s surprising how fast summer ends and then the weather cools, the colors change, and before you know it, it’ll be snowing! Lately, Steph has been on a pumpkin craze which has definitely fit the weather and this past week, she stumbled upon an awesome recipe via Foodgawker for Pumpkin Chili.

Well, turns out that even buying the smallest pumpkin available from the grocery store, is still a lot of pumpkin. So after we cooked and pureed the squash, we ended up making pumpkin ginger mini-pies, pumpkin ginger bars, and pumpkin seeds while refrigerating the rest of the puree. Needless to say, it was quite a pumpkin-flavored evening.

Preparing the pumpkin:

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out all the guts. Save the guts and later, pick out the pumpkin seeds for roasting.

Pumpkin split into two

Cut each cleaned pumpkin half into quarters and place on two baking sheets, skin-side up. Pour water on to the baking sheet until an even layer forms. Cook at 400F for roughly 35 minutes or until a fork easily slides through the skin.

The entire pumpkin

Once the pumpkin is cooked and cool enough to handle, scrap the flesh off the skin and into a food processor.

Scraping the fleshy part

Puree the pumpkin until it has a smooth consistency. Use what you need and refrigerate or freeze the rest!

Pureed Pumpkin

Pumpkin Chili:

Disclaimer: This recipe is vegan! Granted, we all added sour cream and cheese on top because no one eating was vegan but I personally, was very surprised to not miss the meat. This chili is quite hearty and incredibly delicious – I’ll definitely be using this recipe again next time I need a vegetarian chili.


  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 jalepeno
Chopping peppers

In a large stock pot, heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat. Saute the onion for a few minutes or until onions are beginning to soften and turn translucent. Add the garlic and peppers and cook for an additional five minutes or until all vegetables are soft.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the seasoning:

  • 2 teaspoons baking cocoa
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

Once the onions and peppers are ready, add the seasoning mixture as well as the remaining ingredients:

  • 2 15oz kidney beans, rinsed
  • 2 15oz black beans, rinsed
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 15oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 12oz dark beer (we used Left Hand’s Milk Stout)
Adding the beer!

Once the chili has been combined, bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 45 minutes on medium low. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Steph stirring the chili

When ready to serve, sour cream and grated cheese is a wonderful addition. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chili

For more pictures from this pumpkin kitchen adventure: Pumpkinlicious Photo Album