Salted Caramel Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

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This pie recipe elevates the classic pumpkin pie to a whole new level. Even those who turn their nose up at plain pumpkin pie will fall for the rich, golden brown caramelized sweetness and tempering tang of salt in this pie. Start with a basic blind baked pie crust, and save your crust trimmings for any decorative embellishment you might want to top the pie with. You can make this the day before, and serve it with freshly whipped cream, or a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream the next day. Perfect for Thanksgiving, or any holiday gathering that calls for dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1 blind baked pie crust, trimmings saved (I love this basic recipe)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cold salted butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • A few dashes ground cardamom
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the sugar and 3 tablespoons water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat slightly. Swirl the pan occasionally, but don’t stir it. If you have a pastry brush, you can use it to brush water around the edges of the bubbling caramel to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
  3. Once you have a deep golden color, stir everything with a wooden spoon, and add the butter and heavy cream all at once. Be careful, it will bubble up pretty aggressively, and sugar burns are the worst!
  4. Add the vanilla and the brown sugar, and stir everything to combine. If you have lumps, whisk everything together until smooth.
  5. Next, whisk in the pumpkin and all the spices until smooth. Taste your filling at this point before you add the eggs, and add more salt, vanilla, or a bit more brown sugar if needed. Then one at a time, whisk in the eggs.
  6. Pour the filling into the pie shell, tap out any air bubbles, and smooth the top, and put the pie in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then bring the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake the pie for 15 more minutes, until the filling is set enough to support the decorative crust, then add any decorations you like. Cut out shapes, lattice, or braids look beautiful. Brush the decorations with some beaten egg, and bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. Brush the decorations with a bit more egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse raw sugar for a little sparkle. Bake for 5 more minutes, until the crust turns a lovely golden brown. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

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