If I said, ‘impulse buyer,’ what reaction would I get out of you?
Would you hang your head sheepishly? Grin like the Cheshire cat proudly? Make sure your spouse isn’t looking as you show me your collection of late night infomercial purchase?
I am not an impulse buyer. I’m too much of a critical observer for that. In fact, my husband says that I’ve ruined movie-watching for him because one time long ago I shared with him my way of getting through a movie that I don’t find all that exciting.
You see, I look for mistakes. And they’re always there. Airplane contrails and electric wires in period films. An actor with an ear piercing hole or watch on when there weren’t pierced ears or earrings yet. Big changes in actor position or scenery when a shot moves from one camera to the other.
One of my favorites is in Red Dawn. It’s a poignant scene where Toni, who is already dying, is going to save the rest of the group by releasing a hand grenade when the Russians reach her. As Patrick Swayze says good bye, he begins to cry, making it very realistic when he blows a snot bubble during his close-up. Such a touching moment.
Ok, so I may have just gotten a bit off track. What also keeps me from being an impulse buyer is my dislike of window shopping. And malls. And crowds. And rampant commercialism (especially around Christmas). When I shop, I know what I need. I go in; I buy it; I leave. Hubby loves that about me.
Except. There’s always an except. Except when it comes to cooking. That means impulse cookbook and magazine purchases. It also means impulse buying when I’m in the grocery store.
This pie is a good case in point. I have a favorite pumpkin pie. It’s the one my mom made during my time living at home and the one that I’ve made since moving out of my own. That’s decades of the same pie. And I’m not tired of it.
Enter seeing a 1992 issue of Gourmet Magazine with a Brandied Pumpkin Pie on the cover and I HAD to have the copy so I could make the pie. Impulse took over. I bought the magazine and yesterday, I made the pie.
The preparation of this pie is similar to any that you would make. The crust is a pretty typical pâte brisée (pie crust), including a fair amount of ‘do this, then chill for an hour’ kind of thing.
Added, of course, is a quarter cup of brandy. Missing (at least in my book) is nutmeg. Otherwise, you’ll just need a whisk to combine the filling. It gets poured in the unbaked shell and baked.
Regarding the shell, it also has leaf decorations (I made stars since it’s closer to Christmas now). The directions call for them to be made and baked first, and the pie afterwards. I think you could easily do both at the same time, removing the tray of cut-out pastry after 15 minutes, leaving the pie to continue baking an additional 45 minutes.
We had a friend over for dinner and he was very willing to be a pie guinea pig for me. Dudette, who isn’t a fan of pumpkin (she takes after her Papa), opted for chocolate ice cream.
All three of us enjoyed this immensely. It’s definitely grown up pumpkin pie and quite boozy. The guys, being guys, inhaled their pieces, letting occasional grunts of satisfaction suffice as commentary.
While I did enjoy the pie a lot, I have to admit that I missed the pure pumpkin taste of the regular variety. Pumpkin got overwhelmed by brandy. I also thought there was too much cinnamon.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d cut the brandy to two tablespoons, cut the cinnamon to one teaspoon and add a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg.
Brandied Pumpkin Pie
- 1½ recipes pâte brisée
- An egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water
- 2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
- ⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup Cognac or other brandy
- Ginger whipped cream as an accompaniment
Pie Crust Ingredients
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Roll out three fourths of the dough ⅛ inch thick on a lightly floured surface, fit it into a 10-inch (6-cup capacity) pie plate, and trim the edge, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under the dough flush with the edge of the pie plate and with a sharp knife make ½-inch-long cuts at ¾-inch intervals all the way around the edge of the shell. Turn every other section of the dough in toward the center of the shell to form a decorative edge and chill the shell for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the remaining dough ⅛ inch thick on the lightly floured surface and with a 3-inch leaf-shaped cutter cut out 3 leaves. Transfer the pastry leaves to a baking sheet, score them lightly with the back of a knife to form veins, and chill them for 15 minutes, or until they are firm. Brush the leaves lightly with some of the egg wash and bake them in the middle of a preheated 375°F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Transfer the leaves to a rack and let them cool completely.
- In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, the brown sugar, the cinnamon, the ginger, the salt, the heavy cream, the milk, the eggs, and the Cognac until the filling is smooth and pour the filling into the shell. Brush the edge of the shell lightly with some of the remaining egg wash if desired and bake the pie in the middle of a preheated 375°F. oven for 1 hour, or until the filling is set but the center still shakes slightly. (The filling will continue to set as the pie cools.) Transfer the pie to a rack and let it cool completely. Garnish the pie with the pastry leaves just before serving and serve it with the ginger whipped cream.
Pie Crust Instructions
- In a large bowl blend the flour, the butter, the vegetable shortening, and the salt until the mixture resembles meal. Add 3 tablespoons ice water, toss the mixture until the water is incorporated, and form the dough into a ball. Knead the dough lightly with the heel of the hand against a smooth surface for a few seconds to distribute the fat evenly and re-form it into a ball. Dust the dough with flour and chill it, wrapped in wax paper, for 1 hour.
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