Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just in Time for Autumn and Thanksgiving! Bobby Flay's Winning Throwdown Pumpkin Pie

We were lucky enough to catch Bobby Flay at our local Williams Sonoma store during his book signing tour for Bobby Flay's Throwdown!: More Than 100 Recipes from Food Network's Ultimate Cooking Challenge. With my autographed copy in hand, I couldn't wait to get home and try one of the recipes.

During Season 7 of Throwdown, Bobby Flay challenged Michele Albano (Michele’s Pies, Norwalk, Connecticut) to a Pumpkin Pie Throwdown. The judges were James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan, and chef/co-owner of Metro Bis Restaurant, Christopher Prosperi. Bobby was victorious with his Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch and Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream.

Bobby’s strategy was to create a pie with an intensely flavored filling, using molasses, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla. He wanted the filling to be luxuriously smooth and creamy, so he used extra egg yolks, heavy cream and milk, and strained it before baking. He also decided to keep it simple with canned pumpkin puree and a nontraditional graham cracker crust. To finish off the pie, he topped each slice with airy, boozed up whipped cream and crunchy cinnamon-oat streusel, providing a wonderful contrast of textures.

The cinnamon crunch calls for light muscovado sugar, and the filling calls for dark muscovado sugar. Muscovado is a type of unrefined brown sugar with a strong molasses flavor. It is slightly courser and stickier than most brown sugars, and is nutritionally richer, retaining most of the natural minerals inherent in the sugarcane juice, which also provides its rich flavor and color.

I quickly became frustrated in my quest to locate muscovado sugar at every store in San Diego. Having never tasted the difference before, I became obsessed with trying to find it. One gourmet-cooking store had a pound of light, but told me they are discontinuing it because it just doesn’t sell. Both are available through Amazon (India Tree Dark Muscovado Sugar, 1 Pound (Pack of 4); Billington's Natural Light Brown Muscovado Sugar, 16-Ounce Bags (Pack of 10)), but I wanted to make the pie over the weekend. I snapped up the remaining pound of light, and settled for using dark brown sugar in the recipe, and adding an extra tablespoon of molasses.

Nevertheless, this was one incredible pumpkin pie. I sent out an e-mail to some of our friends in the neighborhood, offering free pie, and we had 10 people stop by for a late afternoon slice!

Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch and Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream
Slightly modified from Bobby Flay's Throwdown!: More Than 100 Recipes from Food Network's Ultimate Cooking Challenge and Throwdown Pumpkin Pie

Cinnamon Crunch:
(Makes enough for 2-3 pies)

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup quick cooking rolled oats
½ cup light muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

Graham Cracker Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg, whisked (for brushing crust)

Pumpkin filling:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
¾ cup dark muscavado sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream (for serving):

1 1/4 cups very cold heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon (to your taste)


For the Cinnamon Crunch:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor, and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until combined. Pour the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and pat it into a rectangle, approximately 4 x 6 inches. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Break up into small pieces and store in an airtight container.  Again, this makes enough crunch for 2-3 pies.  It would also be good sprinkled over ice cream.

For the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and cinnamon to a medium bowl and mix until combined. It should feel like wet sand, and just come together.

Spread the mixture evenly into a 10-inch pie plate, using your fingertips or the flat bottom of a glass. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Brush with whisked egg.

Put the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the crust is light brown and firm to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the Filling:

Reduce the oven to 300 degrees F.

Whisk together the eggs, yolks, both sugars, and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the pumpkin puree, spices, salt, cream, milk, and vanilla seeds and continue whisking to combine. Strain the mixture through a coarse strainer into a bowl (this will provide the velvety smoothness). Whisk in the butter.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, and pour the strained mixture into the baked shell. Bake until almost set, about 1 hour (the edges will be set and the center will be jiggle slightly when shaken). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, if preferred.

Cut into slices, and top each with a large dollop of whipped cream and some of the cinnamon crunch.

For the Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream:

Combine the cream, vanilla seeds, syrup and bourbon in a large chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

Garnish each piece of pie with a dollop of the whipped cream and sprinkling of cinnamon crunch before serving.



Mom said...

Glad I just beat the neighborhood crowd for that extraordinary pumpkin pie! It was silky smooth melt-in-your-mouth delicious and that crunchy cinnamon-oat streusel combined with the boozy
whipped cream made it an incredible taste sensation. Best pumpkin pie ever.

bunkycooks said...

Okay...so I didn't get the email! ;) Wish I was your neighbor. The pie looks incredible and with all these calories, I would have to have a bite and give the rest away, too!

Carmen said...

One part of me wishes the other nine had just stayed home so there would have been more pie for me ... But then, the other part loved breaking pie with the neighbors on an early Sunday evening. Thanks, Denise for bringing our little community together in the most delicious way!

Kai said...

Ate it, loved it!
Thanks Denise for sharing this delicious pie. And the doughnut holes were fantatsic as well. Max said he had 5 of those.

Anonymous said...

OMG! You have me absolutely drooling! Must try this one, and I forwarded it to a friend that has a up scale restaurant. She was trilled to try is as well.

ButterYum said...

Oooh... I'm not a fan of traditional pumpkin pie, but this one might be a good change. Great pics!!