This pie is somewhat non-traditional, but nonetheless perfect for the holidays.
“Non-traditional” because it uses a cake mix instead of a typical crust (much easier). “Somewhat” because, although the cake crust is an obvious departure, it’s close enough to tradition that it will fully satisfy your holiday pumpkin pie craving. The pie filling is traditional, from scratch, just like your grandma’s or your favorite aunt’s (or your favorite uncle’s, if you’re one of my siblings’ kids).
Easy Recipe for a Somewhat Non-Traditional Pumpkin Pie
with Cool Whip or Nutmeg Whip
I have a thing for Cool Whip. It’s so pristine in its utter artificiality. There’s something very wrong about marrying it to something organic, like pumpkin purée … something very, very wrong in a way that makes me want to go to underground clubs where anonymous people eat pumpkin pie with Cool Whip in the dark. But it’s Thanksgiving, and the relatives are over. Distract them from their annual review of your interior design shortcomings with a flavored whipped cream, and withhold from those who deserveth it not the Cool Whip. Check out this spiced whipped cream recipe, or check out the one below.
This pie’s overall flavor is all about pumpkin; it’s just that it’s a bit darker, a bit deeper, and dangerously alluring. In your first bite you’ll notice the difference, by your second bite you will have accepted the difference, by your third bite you’ll be enjoying the difference, and by the time you’ve finished the square, you’ll either feel quite pumpkin-pie satisfied, or you’ll be reaching for a second square, destined for pumpkin pie nirvana. Bonus: this recipe produces the equivalent of two pies, and it’s much easier to schlep around.
Why do I keep calling them “squares,” when they’re quite obviously circles? Step 4, below.
Makes two dozen 2.25″ x 2.5″ squares, or a somewhat smaller number of circles. One square per serving is fine; you may want seconds.
Ingredients for the Crust
1. Spray a large (15″ x 9″) jellyroll pan with non-stick spray (or use a non-stick pan and skip the spray). Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cake mix, flour, and melted butter by mixing for 30 seconds on speed 1, allowing the cake mix to become fully moistened. Add egg and mix until completely combined and the dough cleans the bowl. Press into the bottom of prepared pan.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Ingredients for the Filling
1. Clean out the mixer bowl and save licking the paddle for your next batch of brownies. Using the whisk attachment, whip the eggs until frothy, about 1 minute on speed 6. Add pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves and mix until combined, about 30 seconds on speed 4, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. While mixer is running on speed 2, slowly pour in evaporated milk and mix until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and do a bit of final mixing with your spatula.
2. It’s time to pour the filling into the pan. This step can be tricky. First, the filling may fill the pan to such a degree that you’ll likely spill it when moving it from the countertop to the oven. Second problem: my oven has a beautiful rack – a couple of them, actually. When you pull them out, however, they become slightly unlevel. You too? Don’t be self-conscious. So your rack’s not perfect. So what. How many of them really are, upon close examination? My oven’s rack is so slightly off, that you might not notice until you try to balance an unbaked pie on it. The filling may not fit into the pan if the pan isn’t level. If that happens or you suspect that it will, pour about 1½-2 cups of the filling into a measuring cup, and pour the rest of the filling into the prepared pan as it’s sitting on the rack, slide the rack into the oven, and then reach in carefully with the measuring cup and add the remainder of the filling.
3. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Or give it a little slap and interpret its jiggles if that’s more your style.
Want a crust alternative to cake mix that’s just as easy? Click here.
4. Remove from oven and let cool completely. After that, cutting the pie into squares is the most efficient thing to do. Well, that’s not completely true … just sitting down with the pan and a fork would be incredibly efficient. Come to think of it, screw the fork. The pie and your own two bare hands: it doesn’t get any leaner and meaner than that. But, since I have a suspicion your world is just a little too laced up for that, cutting the pie into neatly measured anal retentive squares is the next best thing. You can also use a biscuit cutter to cut out circles. You’d think that’d be somewhat less efficient, since it would produce pie scraps, but curiously, it doesn’t. I find that as I cut the circles with my right hand, my left hand – all on its own – picks up the would-be scraps as I go and shoves them in my mouth. Seems highly efficient to me. Plus, as you know, stuff you eat while cooking has no calories. Pumpkin Squares will keep, covered and refrigerated, for five days or so. They don’t freeze well.
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs sugar
¾ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1. By now, your mixing bowl should be clean. I mean, you should’ve been done with it a couple hours ago. Has it been sitting around all that time? Where were you born, in a barn?
2. Moments before serving, whip all ingredients until soft peaks form. Top each square with a generous dollop of whip and then, if desired, drizzle with caramel sauce. Whipped cream is one of those just-in-time preps – which is just fine, since a stand mixer makes it about as easy as microwaving popcorn. But if you’re going to have leftover pie that you’ll be eating for breakfast for the next few days – and trust me, it’s even better than pizza – you’re not going to want to blast your delicate state of morning semi-consciousness with the violent scream of your KitchenAid. It’s like having boiling water thrown on your brain. In that case, when you do your initial whip and you’ve dolloped as many squares as you’re going to eat, you can really beat the hell out of the rest of that cream, taking it well into the stiff-peaks area, bordering on whoops. Then package it up and fridge it. The next day, it will have seeped, but you stir it up rather thoroughly and it will become good enough to grace your pie. Pair it with a cappuccino and you’ll find yourself in a state of having absolutely nothing to complain about.