A Genius 5-Minute Pumpkin Pie Improvement—Comfort in Hot Praline

November  9, 2016

When you're feeling helpless or frustrated, and like throwing a pie at the wall might be a valid answer—remember this one small, productive release: It will make your pumpkin pie something special and new this Thanksgiving, a welcome relief in a time of comfort-seeking, and perhaps do even more for you, in this moment.

It will channel your free anger into vigorously bubbling caramel, take all of five minutes, and give back immediate return—even though it means adding a full pecan pie experience on top of a perfectly good pumpkin pie.

The pumpkin-wearing-pecan pie look was a novel idea to me, when I learned about it via Food52er AntoniaJames and Yankee, a regional New England magazine founded in 1935.

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The recipe was neatly placed next to articles on the 2016 Fall Foliage Forecast, the 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in Maine, and Methods to Deskunk Your Dog, which made Yankee Magazine seem like a pretty great place to live.

I’ve since learned that there are close to a million recipes for pumpkin-pecan combo pies already chugging around the internet, and just about every major food brand has their own version. This one has apples, too (a three-fer). This one has a whole cheesecake resting on top.

But one big difference here, from the million-ish masses, is that most of the hybrid pies out there require either baking both filling strata simultaneously, or carefully layering on the pecan goo after the pumpkin custard has a short head start.

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Top Comment:
“I make it with coconut milk and a gluten free crust and make it as a tart instead of a pie. It is a favorite!”
— insecureepicure

Only one of those takes a fully functional pumpkin pie and just keeps going: After baking a pumpkin pie to completion, you—very briefly—blast on a layer of pecan praline under the broiler.

It might sound risky to subject a custard pie to such intense heat, but the time in the danger zone is very brief, and this actually allows you more control: Sizzle it exactly as long as you like, rotating and checking when you want.

Want to serve it still warm and bubbling? Do it. I like giving mine enough time to cool for a thin crystalline shell to form. You’ll have even more flexibility if you forgo the concentric rings of decorative pecan halves, which, as you can see—like the canary in the coal mine—signal char first.

Until I tasted the pumpkin and pecan hybrid myself, I assumed it would be sweet-on-sweet and over the top—and frankly, some of the recipes out there probably are. But this particular mash-up brings out the better in both—the sugar in the pumpkin base is quite low, so that the gooey praline topping brings out the pumpkin’s savory, spiced side, and the slick crackle and crumble up top gives clarity to the extreme smoothness it floats above.

With either layer alone, it would be easy to get bored and move on to the Dutch apple crunch, but not here. Your attention will be blissfully occupied, in this moment.

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]—thank you to Food52er AntoniaJames for this one.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • CoffeeAndBaconYum
  • JanieMac
  • Caro McAdam
    Caro McAdam
  • insecureepicure
  • bobbie stewart
    bobbie stewart
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


CoffeeAndBaconYum September 17, 2020
Does this pie need to be refrigerated especially if made a day or two ahead of serving?
Kristen M. September 21, 2020
Yes, food safety experts say that custard pies like pumpkin pie should be kept refrigerated if sitting out for an extended period of time. Hope you like it!
CoffeeAndBaconYum September 21, 2020
JanieMac November 18, 2016
It is a mixture of milk and cream - in UK and Ireland it would be ordinary cream mixed with full fat milk 50:50.
Caro M. November 18, 2016
Looks and sounds great! But please, what's half and half?
insecureepicure November 14, 2016
Martha Stewart Living ran a very similar recipe which I have cut out of the magazine with no date. I make it with coconut milk and a gluten free crust and make it as a tart instead of a pie. It is a favorite!
JanieMac November 13, 2016
This is sounding just perfect. How to get non-Americans into the swing of the pumpkin thing...
bobbie S. November 10, 2016
Rachel N. November 9, 2016
Scouring the internet for encouragement, I came upon this pie recipe. Much thank.
TMatt November 9, 2016
How appropriate for today. Just what I need to make.
Hilary H. November 9, 2016