Thanksgiving Pies

Caramel Pumpkin Pie
Gourmet's Caramel Pumpkin Pie, photo by Roland Bello

Traditional pies didn't get as much coverage as turkeys in the magazines this month. Cook's Illustrated proposed an intriguing No-Bake Pumpkin Pie (reg. required), promising a "fresher, brighter pumpkin flavor."

Martha Stewart Living did a whole spread of "Great New Pies" (Mini Cranberry Meringue, anyone?) and instead of traditional pumpkin they offered Pumpkin Pie with Graham Crust & Candied Pepitas. "We spiced up the filling with a pinch of cayenne pepper." I'm not sure my grandfather would appreciate that!

Saveur created a Thanksgiving Twofer Pie (which doesn't seem to be online). The Twofer "bakes our two favorites into one delicious combo." It's a mix of pumpkin and pecan. Since my family doesn't ever have pecan pie at Thanksgiving, but rather apple, our "twofer" would be an apple/pumpkin mix. Hmmm…I'm not convinced that's better than two individual pies.

Food & Wine didn't offer a single traditional pie recipe, the closest they came was a Sweet Potato Tart with Red Wine Caramel.

And my choice for best new pie idea was Gourmet's Caramel Pumpkin Pie. Caramel sounds like a good addition to an old stand-by, but it's not getting very good reviews at Epicurious. One poster said, "The caramel dominated the other flavors. The recipe called for very small amounts of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, so the pie was very bland as a result." Another wrote, "The recipe was followed exactly, and it just didn't taste good." Drat!

So maybe this is the year to stick with your family pie recipes, and ensure that everyone will leave the table happy. What pies do you enjoy at Thanksgiving?

6 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Pies

  1. I love a butternut squash pie from Kay Rentschler that I made last year and an apple quince pie from the LA Times – both were huge hits. My stepmother makes an apple tart with fresh applesauce that’s also pretty amazing, but of course now I don’t know where the recipe is (though the components are pretty easy: pate sucree filled with fresh applesauce – homemade – then topped with thin slices of apples glazed with apple jelly and baked until the edges start to brown).

  2. The tastiest and most guilt-free pie I’ve had (for those who like chocolate): this chocolate mousse pie made with—wait for it—tofu. Really wonderful. The Wife hated the thought until she agreed to taste just one little, tiny taste, and then she loved the pie. Original recipe is from Science News, not my usual recipe source.

  3. I’d like to weigh in on the traditional pie/new pie recipe issue. If you ask me, I prefer to fall back on my traditional pie recipes for Thanksgiving (and Christmas). For me, these holidays are about tradition. I live far away from my parents, and can’t make it home for Thanksgiving most years. The next best thing is to enjoy the same recipes my mom has been making for years: her spinach salad with apples, walnuts, and vinaigrette; her green bean casserole, and of course, wonderful apple and pumpkin pies.
    I figure, I have the rest of the year to experiment with pie recipes. If I find one I like better than my traditional recipes, I can add it to my Thanksgiving menu if I feel like it.

  4. A new favorite has emerged this year. The Naked Granny Apple Pie from The Grit Coobook (the edition that was just released at the begining of November) It’s part cheesecake part apple pie made with granny smith apples (hence the name) with almonds on top. I made one last weekend to try it out, and we loved it (although it was definetly at it’s best while still warm. It may not please the traditionalists who want their classic apple pie, but if you want to mix things up, I reccommend it.

  5. I am baking the Great Pumpkin Pie from Rose Levy Barenbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible with these small adjustments: cut down the ground ginger to 1.5 t, add .5 t fresh grated nutmeg, use fresh pumpkin (a sugar pie pumpkin). The first one I made using Julia Child’s pate brise, but it seemed a little flat. For actual t-day I’ll try a cornmeal crust. The pie filling is awesome. It’s my new traditional pie– no more Libby’s!

Comments are closed.