Friday, November 14, 2008

"pumpkin" pie

There was an article in Yoga Journal recently, about tweaking traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier. They talked about how if you use fresh pumpkin instead of canned, you won't have to use as much sugar - not only because it is naturally sweeter, but also because you don't have to cover up the metallic taste. Well, that ruined it for me, because the next time I was feeding Jack canned pumpkin (mixed with applesauce), I tried some and I could definitely taste the metal. Darn it. Once I notice the metallic taste, it's all over. It was the same thing with cranberry sauce.

So I started keeping an eye out for pie pumpkins, but I haven't been able to find any. And I've read in a couple of places that if you can't find a pie pumpkin, you're better off using a butternut squash than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin (not that I can find any of those anymore, either). One website even said that commercially canned pumpkin is actually a variety of butternut squash, but I don't know about that.

Well anyway, it seemed like a reasonable idea, so I decided to try it. I bought a big ol' butternut squash, cooked it, pureed it, and baked it into a pie. It certainly did take less sugar to make it sufficiently sweet - only 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, whereas I usually use a full cup when I cook with canned pumpkin. The color of the finished pie was kind of beige-ish as opposed to dark orange, but it did look like a pumpkin pie. It smelled like a pumpkin pie, and I suppose it did taste like a pumpkin pie as well. It wasn't as if you could tell that it wasn't made with real pumpkin, but it did taste a little bland - there was a depth of flavor missing. It's a light and clean taste, but it just doesn't taste all that pumpkin-y. It's kind of like the difference between a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks and one from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf - one tastes like pumpkin pie spice, and one has real pumpkin flavor. (FYI, the Pumkin Pie Blizzard at DQ is the most pumpkin-y thing I've tasted in a long time.)

The verdict: is butternut squash an acceptable substitute for pumpkin in a pinch? Yes. Are they interchangeable? No.

I'm going to keep on looking for pie pumpkins...


Mother Hoodwink said...

I admit, I know nothing about how to make a pumpkin pie. Aside from dumping out the can of purred pumpkin and adding some other spices.

I don't like pumpkin pie but it's Josh's favorite. I was thinking of making a homemade one for him this year. I had no idea there was such thing as a pie pumpkin. I totally would have used a jack-o-lantern pumpkin and made a pie with it.

I think I'll stick to buying those frozen pumpkin pie single slices for Josh.

Here's the pie I do make every holiday:

It's ridiculously good. Doesn't freeze well though.

Kerry said...

That looks amazing. Brian hates pecan pie, so I kind sneak in a nod to it with the pecans on top of this:$cmsc&LayoutID=31&CntID=897

And yes, I do make pumpkin pie AND pumpkin cheesecake. We are pumpkin people!

(BTW, pumpkin pie is kind of like a custard, so you also have to add half & half and eggs. And brown sugar! It's really super easy!)

ponyponytail said...

OK, so there's a Japanese pumpkin called a kabocha that my grandfather used to grow on his farm. It's kind of knobby and ugly looking, but it's sweet and delicious when roasted.

There's a recipe for kabocha pie in today's Advertiser, which I've transcribed for you here! I'm going to try this recipe this year, too.

Kabocha pie filling:

1-1/2 c fresh roasted mashed kabocha
3/4 c brown sugar (or 1/3 c agave)
1 T cornstarch or arrowroot (use 2 T if using agave)
2 t pumpkin pie spice (or your favorite combo of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc.)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
2 eggs (or 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg)
12 oz evaporated skim milk

Preheat oven to 350. Scrub the heck out of the kabocha, slice it into 1" wedges, arrange wedges on a cookie sheet coated with non-stick spray. Put a bowl of water in the oven, too, to create steam so the kabocha doesn't dry out. Roast 45 - 60 min. Poke with a fork to check for tenderness. Cool. Remove skins with paring knife. Mash!

Dump kabocha pie filling into pie crust of your choice. Bake. Enjoy the yumminess.

There's a recipe for a gingersnap pie crust in the Advertiser article, but it's more involved than I like to get. My mom makes a great graham cracker crust that I think will go just fine with the kabocha.

Let me know if you try this out, and I'll do the same!

Kerry said...

Steph! I totally didn't even see this comment, and I bought a kabocha yesterday! I will let you know how it turns out.