8 Ways to Spice Up the Classic Pumpkin Pie

It's the time of year when everything goes pumpkin. From lattes and loaves, and of course, pies, everyone seems to be craving this plentiful autumn staple. While a traditional pumpkin pie will satisfy most palattes, sometimes it's nice to add a little pizzaz.

If you're not a seasoned baker, don't worry if your pie ends up with a split in it.  According to Patrick Cousineau of Calgary's Pies Plus, that's supposed to happen. But if you're looking to make it look perfect, just add one of the toppings below, or cover your pie with plastic wrap, and when it's reached gently smooth it back together with a knife.

by Laura Lushington (Culinaire Magazine October 2013)

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1. Any pumpkin pie can be taken to the next level by simply using real pumpkin, not the canned variety. Cut a pumpkin or two in half (smaller pumpkins tend to be sweeter), scoop out the seeds, and slowly roast the flesh in a dish with about 5 mm of water at 350ºF until soft. Purée, and voila!

2. Add a single layer of mini marshmallows to the top of the pie and toast it under the oven broiler for 60 seconds, says Janine Cheramy, pastry chef for Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. This will add sweet, creamy topping to the decadent pie.

3. Drizzle melted chocolate or Nutella on top of the pie. Or even better, swirl in 1/2 cup (120 mL) of chocolate or Nutella, bake, and then add a drizzle on top.

Image by Jack Niles
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4. For a boozy flavour punch, make your own whipped cream but throw in a tablespoon or two of bourbon.  You can also add in some crushed toffee pieces for a bit of a crunch.

Whipped Cream:

1 cup (240 mL) heavy cream

2 Tbs sugar

1-2 Tbs bourbon and / or toffee bits

Whip cream until soft mounds form. Gradually add sugar, whipping until the cream forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in bourbon / toffee. Chill before serving.

5. Make a gingersnap cookie crust:

1 3/4 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs

2 Tbs of sugar

2 1/2 Tbs melted butter

Crush either store-bought or homemade gingersnap cookies into cookie crumbs. Mix with sugar and melted butter.  Press into a 9-inch pan and bake at 325ºF for 5 minutes.  Cool before use.

6. Add a maple walnut crumble topping:

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 Tbs butter

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the sugars, flour, and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Add to pie with 10 minutes remaining in baking time.

7. Turn your basic recipe into a chai pumpkin spice pie with these spice substitutions:

1 tsp ground cardamom

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

8. Instead of using regular milk, use coconut milk for a subtle hint of flavour and a creamier texture. It's an easy way to have your guests asking what made your pie so fabulous.

Image by Christina Rumpf