Pumpkin pie is definitely in my top 10 favorite pies (why, yes, I do have a list!) and of course it's already beloved as a Thanksgiving Day pie. But I was thinking about how to make a pumpkin pie that emphasizes the holiday and pays homage to the flavors from the Americas, the pumpkin's homeland. This ingredients in this pie are like a greatest hits of indigenous American flavors: the toothsome crunch of cornmeal in the crust, a zippy burst of American corn-mash bourbon in the Latin American dulce de leche, pepitas dusted with Caribbean allspice and cayenne -- and, of course, a rich, soft pumpkin custard in the middle. —vrunka
Cornmeal Pie Crust
medium or fine grind cornmeal
butter, ice cold and cut into chunks
For the crust: Using a pastry blender or food processor, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and butter until the butter is broken down into pea-sized lumps. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out dough and place in a 9-inch pie pan. Make sure the crust overhangs the edge just a bit. This is a fairly crumbly crust so if it breaks, just push it back together with your fingers.
For the pumpkin pie filling, combine pumpkin puree and spices in a mixing bowl. Add condensed milk and eggs and stir carefully (be careful not to splash!) until well combined. Pour into the pie crust.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 40 minutes more. It's done when a toothpick comes out clean (or clean-ish) from the center of the pie. Allow pie to cool for at least 30 minutes.
While the pie is baking, make the crispy pepita topping. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine granulated sugar and water. Heat for one minute to dissolve the sugar. Add the pepitas and spices. Heat for one minute at a time, stirring after each minute until the sugar and pepitas start to turn dark brown (but not black!). Watch out: the bowl will be very hot!
Pour the pepitas out on a cookie sheet covered with a SIlpat or parchment . Allow to cool completely.
Heat up the dulce de leche in a small sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring constantly. Once it's warm and liquidy, add the bourbon. (if you are averse to using bourbon, you can add some maple syrup or a scraped vanilla bean for equally unique flavors from the Americas).
Once the pie has cooled, top the pie with dulce de leche. Right before serving, sprinkle the candied pepitas on top.
NOTE: You can purchase canned dulce de leche, but it's also easy to make yourself. Search the Food52 website or Google for recipes -- there are many! Basically all you do is simmer sweetened condensed milk until it is a deep golden brown. I made mine from scratch starting with regular milk -- which takes much longer and as you can see from the picture, I got impatient and pulled it before it was quite caramelized enough!