Asian-influenced Pumpkin Pie

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November 17, 2014 by NS

On Sunday my wife and I hosted a potluck. We wanted to make dumplings (which I’ll post about later), but I also wanted to make a pumpkin pie. In order to lessen the incongruity, I thought I should try to make the pumpkin pie with an Asian twist. I searched around for spices and garnishes that could potentially go with pumpkin and found a few examples that were interesting: star anise is a common spice in Asian cooking and often goes with sweet dishes; and I found some recipes for black sesame pumpkin bread or similar items.

Filling:
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
some form of star anise extract or liqueur
3 eggs

Basically you just mix it all together until it’s well mixed, and then pour it into the pie shell. I used a pre-made pie shell. You can bake a pumpkin and use the fresh pumpkin instead; this is better than using canned pumpkin, but the recipe is the same anyway. The amount of sugar in this recipe is already relatively low; there’s a lot of sugar in the pumpkin already, so you don’t need to add a lot, but the sugar helps bring out the flavor, so don’t decrease it too much more in the interest of being “healthy”. My opinion is that cream is way better than evaporated milk for pumpkin pie. You can do lots of things with the spices – cardamom and allspice often show up, and some people don’t like clove. I included the spices I used, and that worked out well, but feel free to adjust.

To get star anise “extract”, I tried boiling a couple of pods in a cup of water until the water was almost completely reduced. The resulting potion, however, was not very strongly anise-flavored and was a bit bitter. We put it into the pie anyway.

Once the filling is done, you just pour it right into the pie shell, and you are done!

Glaze:
2 tbsp sweet black sesame paste (can find in an Asian supermarket, especially the Japanese section)
2 tbsp ouzo

Since the homemade star anise extract didn’t work out that well, we put anise flavor in our black sesame glaze as well, by thinning the black sesame paste with ouzo. We stirred this until well mixed, adding ouzo until it was thin enough to easily make a design on the pie. Then we drizzled the black sesame stuff into a spiral pattern on top of the pie.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425F, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes or so. You should check on the pie to make sure the outer edges don’t overcook; if the crust is getting brown while the middle still looks very moist, you should cover the outer edge of the pie with foil to slow down the cooking.

This pie was not overtly different from a normal pumpkin pie. It tasted quite good, and the anise/black sesame contribution was pretty subtle. In fact, I don’t think any of our guests even noticed that the pie was supposed to be an “Asian” pumpkin pie. It was just a pie with a pattern on it. A tasty pie.

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