Fluffy Pumpkin Pie From Julia Child’s Aunt Helen, Via Julia Moskin

October  7, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times
  • Prep time 50 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • makes 2 pies
Author Notes

"This recipe was published in Parade in November 1982, when Julia Child was writing a recipe column for the magazine. As all cooks (and writers) know, Thanksgiving is an adventure and a challenge: how to come up with fresh ideas that keep the dish on the right side of tradition? In this pie, Mrs. Child’s addition of molasses, extra spices, and especially bourbon breathes new life into the filling. If you like your desserts on the spicy side, add an extra tablespoon of molasses and a pinch of black pepper." —Julia Moskin

Test Kitchen Notes

Recipe excerpted with permission from The Essential New York Times Cookbook: The Recipes of Record by Amanda Hesser, published by ‎ W. W. Norton & Company; 10th Anniversary edition. © 2021. —The Editors

What You'll Need
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Fluffy Pumpkin Pie From Julia Child’s Aunt Helen, Via Julia Moskin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans (3½ cups) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon or dark rum (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, more as needed
  • 2 unbaked 9-inch pie shells, or one 11-inch pie shell (see recipe)
  1. Heat oven to 450°F and place a rack in center of oven. Separate the eggs and set aside.
  2. Using a mixer, blender, or large bowl, blend the pumpkin, both sugars, 1 teaspoon salt, molasses, bourbon or rum (if using), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, egg yolks, cream, and milk until smooth. Add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is stiff: It should be a soft purée.
  3. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until foaming. Whip in a pinch of salt, then gradually whip in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until shiny white peaks form. Beat a quarter of the whites thoroughly into the pumpkin mixture; gently fold in the rest.
  4. Immediately ladle the filling into the shells, filling to just below the rim of the pan. Place in the oven and bake just until the rim of the crust begins to turn golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester inserted into the filling 2 inches from the rim comes out clean. (The center should still be a bit wet; it will cook more as it cools.) If the rim of the crust starts to get too brown, cover it with aluminum foil.
  5. Immediately turn the oven off, leave the door ajar (stick in a wooden spoon to hold it open, if necessary), and let sit 20 to 30 minutes more as the oven cools; this will prevent the filling from turning watery. Serve warm, or let cool, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Let the pie come to room temperature before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alana
  • Nb53
  • christina
  • Laura

5 Reviews

Alana November 24, 2023
This was absolutely fabulous. I made it in a graham cracker crust which was perfect combination. I added slightly more molasses and bourbon but did not add the extra water because I was using pumpkin puree from scratch which tends to be a little wetter. Absolutely fantastic.
Alana November 24, 2023
Oops, I meant to say that I did not add the extra milk because the liquid volume was enough for the consistency because I used homemade pumpkin puree.
Nb53 November 23, 2021
Made two pies today! Best pumpkin pie recipe ever. Thank you for sharing this . The molasses and bourbon are the secret to making this one over the top.
christina November 12, 2021
This pumpkin pie was delicious. I love the addition of molasses. I usually make my pumpkin pie with the Cooks illustrated recipe.

I have a couple of concerns. The pie crust did turn golden but the filling did not fully stay together. When I did cut a slice. I actually cooked it longer Then than what was called for. Maybe my pie dish was too deep so therefore the feeling was too deep.
I am going to make it again because I love the filling so much but this time I may try to par bake the crust. I would love to know anyone else’s thoughts on this. It just seems weird not to par bake a pumpkin pie crust a single crust pie.
Laura October 29, 2021
Saw this recipe in an article in Bloomberg, but the spices they listed didn't seem like enough. Glad I checked Food52 for the recipe as there must've been a typo:
Look forward to trying this!!