Home Ec: Thanksgiving Basics--Pie!

photo: peden + munk

Dorie Greenspan's Pecan Pie

1 9-inch pie crust, blind baked and cooled
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I sometimes just use a shot of espresso)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) pecan halves or pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.  Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar together until smooth.  Whisk in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until you have a smooth, foamy mixture  Add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and give the batter a good mix.  Rap the bowl against the counter a couple of times to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then stir in the pecans and chocolate.  Turn the filling into the curst.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, make a foil shield for the crust by cutting a 9-inch circle out of the center of an 11- or 12-inch square of aluminum foil.

Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.  Place the foil shield on top of the pie crust--the filling will be exposed, the crust covered by the foil.  Bake the pie for another 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time is 30 to 35 minutes), or until it has puffed (the middle and the edges should be fairly evenly puffed), is beautifully browned and no longer jiggles when tapped.  Transfer the pie plate to a rack, remove the shield and cool to room temperature.

Heirloom Squash and Sage Pie

1 blind baked 9-inch pie crust
1 medium or 2 small pumpkins and/or sweet winter heirloom squashes, such as Triamble, red kabocha, or butternut (about 1 1/2 pounds total), cut into halves and seeds removed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Sage leaves for garnish
Lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drizzle pumpkin and squash wedges with olive oil, and roast cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet until tender (times will vary).  Remove from oven, peel when cool, and allow to drain in a cheesecloth-lined sieve, weighted, for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.  Once drained, puree in a food processor until smooth.  You should have 2 cups puree for the pie.  Any leftover is perfect for ravioli or soup!

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Whisk pumpkin and squash puree, eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, brandy, sage, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.

Pour filling into pie shell, and smooth top using an offset spatula. Garnish with a few sage leaves, if you like.  Bake until just set but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 1 hour (filling will continue to set as it cools). Let cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with whipped cream.
Note: I wrote this recipe for the November 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  If it looks familiar that's why.

And of course: Aaron's pie crust


  1. Hi,
    Your Thanksgiving series has been really helpful!
    I have 2 questions:
    1. Do you cook with vegetable shortening?
    2. Do you use organic unrefined sugars or plain white granulated sugar?

    1. Hi!

      1. I don't use vegetable shortening because I really just don't like how it tastes. If you can't or don't want to use all butter, spectrum makes a nice, organic, non-gmo and fairly neutral tasting veg shortening. You can replace half or all of of the butter in the crust recipe with shortening if you like. If you are going for something dairy free, lard is a good option, too. Aaron (author of the pie crust recipe) is now dairy free and has been talking about freezing pieces of coconut oil and treating them like butter.

      2. For nearly everything I use organic sugar, but in caramels and meringues I use plain white sugar because I find that the molasses and other stuff that sticks around in the unrefined organic stuff can sometimes mess with the chemical reactions I need to happen.

      Happy cooking!

    2. Thanks Samin. Ack, I can't believe Thanksgiving's already over!