The turkey may be the main event at Thanksgiving, but the pie is the unsung hero of the whole dinner. Moist, sweet, crunchy, and delicious all at once, it's the perfect way to close out a marathon meal. And while everyone has their choice flavor—be it apple, pecan, or strawberry rhubarb—nothing says "fall" quite like pumpkins. That being said, we tapped French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, the brains behind the decadent Cronut, for his "extra silky" (read: insanely delicious) recipe.
"I never celebrated Thanksgiving until I moved to the states over 10 years ago," Ansel tells InStyle. "Now it's one of my favorite holidays—spending time together with friends and family over a feast that you put so much love and care into preparing. And for us, it's all about pie. The trick is to make a really smooth, creamy pumpkin filling—ours is triple-strained so it's almost custard-like, with a bit of cinnamon and a crisp gingerbread crust."
If you want to really impress your out-of-town relatives, try making Ansel's simplified at-home version below. Bon appétit indeed.
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 ¼ tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pinch sea salt
1 ½ cups pumpkin purée
1 ½ cups cream
½ cup egg yolk
½ cup cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
How to Make It
For the gingerbread pie crust:
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. While continuing to mix, stream in lemon juice, followed by milk and vanilla, until evenly combined.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, grated ginger, cornstarch and salt until combined. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add in one-third of the dry ingredient mixture until combined. Repeat with the next third, then the final third.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and transfer dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a rectangle no more than ½ inch thick, wrap in the plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least one to two hours.
Remove dough from the fridge. Divide in half (this recipe yields two pie crusts, so you can keep one half wrapped in plastic in the fridge). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 14-inch round. Transfer to a pie tin, gently pressing down into the corners and up the sides. Trim away excess dough using a paring knife, leaving a one-inch overhang around the edge. Fold the edges under, then form a fluted edge around the rim with your fingers. Lightly dock the bottom surface of the dough with a fork. Chill or freeze the pie shell in the pie pan until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line the pie shell with a coffee filter and fill with rice or dried beans to blind bake the crust. Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes, until the bottom of the pie crust is just lightly baked. Remove from oven and discard the coffee filter and rice/beans. Return the crust to the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 4 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
For the pumpkin custard:
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth and creamy. (Tip: You’re looking for an even, smooth custard-like filling without any lumps.)
To assemble the pie:
Pour the custard into the already-baked and cooled pie crust until just below the top.
Bake for 20-35 minutes (check doneness after 20 minutes; the pie is done baking when a paring knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean).
Let cool on the counter, then chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top.
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