Pear and Pumpkin Pie

This recipe from Gourmet magazine reflects the upper end of the Thanksgiving dessert repertoire, when the desserts went from rustic and simple to elaborate and made for presentation. One poaches pears, places them on a partially baked pumpkin pie filling in the crust, finishes the baking and then serves with a ginger creme anglaise. Phew!

Ingredients

    Poached Pears
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 4 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 firm-ripe pears, such as Bosc, peeled
  • Filling
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam, heated and strained
  • Pie
  • Pastry dough for single-crust 9-inch pie
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Makes 8 servings

Instructions

  1. For the poached pears: In large saucepan, combine first 6 ingredients and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low, add pears and simmer until firm-tender, about 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Cool pears in poaching liquid to room temperature, turning occasionally for even color, about 2 hours (pears can be made 1 day ahead and stored in poaching liquid in refrigerator overnight).
  2. Once cool, remove pears (reserve liquid for another use or discard), half lengthwise, and remove stems and core with melon-ball cutter. Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and set aside. Place oven rack in lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Roll dough out to 12-inch circle. Fit into 9-inch pie plate and trim edge, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Cut edge of dough with scissors every 1/2 inch to form curved points and brush with egg white. Chill shell 30 minutes.
  4. For the filling: In large bowl, whisk all filling ingredients together until well combined. Pour filling into chilled shell and bake until edges have puffed slightly but center is still liquid-y, about 35 minutes. Remove pie from oven; arrange pear slices decoratively on top of filling.
  5. Return pie to oven and bake until center is set but still jiggles, another 15 to 20 minutes. Cool pie on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, and then brush pears with jam. Chill pie, covered loosely, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Serve at room temperature with ginger creme anglaise.

Ginger Creme Anglaise

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Makes about 2 cups

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, combine half-and-half, vanilla bean and ginger and heat over medium heat until mixture just reaches simmer; remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Fill large bowl with ice and cool water, set medium bowl on top and fit with strainer; set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together until thickened and fluffy. Slowly pour warm half-and-half mixture into eggs while whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon until mixture reaches 170 degrees. Immediately remove from heat and strain mixture into bowl set over ice bath. Stir until mixture cools to room temperature.
  3. Chill sauce, covered, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days ahead.