I love The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book but I’m an inveterate recipe tinkerer. I kept the idea of making a butterscotch mixture with the butter and sugar but simplified the way the pie is put together. I am one of those folks who doesn’t love pumpkin pie spice so I always use chai spice in my pumpkin pies. I don’t mean a strange mixture of ground tea and sugar. Chai masala is a simple mixture of ground spices that you can find in any Indian food shop. You can also make your own. Here’s one version. Experiment and make your own. Mine never contains star anise–my own personal kryptonite.
Adapted from The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily and Melissa Elsen
1 blind baked 9” pie shell
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
2 cups heavy cream, divided
2 large eggs
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons chai masala spices from an Indian Store
1 teaspoon molasses
Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat butter in a heavy bottomed pan until it melts. Continue cooking the melted butter until it foams up and starts to turn color. Monitor the color carefully and when it is no darker than nut brown add the brown sugar and whisk it together. Whisk in the ¼ cup of water to loosen the mixture and continue cooking it until the sugar darkens, the mixture becomes ropey and it’s smells like caramel.
Add ½ cup of the cream slowly so that it doesn’t sputter up at you. Whisk the mixture together and take it off the heat. Set aside to cool.
Break the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the remaining cream and whisk together. Add the pumpkin puree, salt molasses and chai spices. Add the cooled sugar-cream mixture and whisk well to blend.
Put blind baked pie shell on oven rack. Pour mixture into the shell as it sits on the rack. Filling the shell when it’s already in the oven prevents the pumpkin custard from sloshing over your crust.
Bake approximately 40 minutes or until custard swells up and sets nearly to the center. Pull the pie out of the oven when it still jiggles a bit in the center. This will prevent your pie filling from cracking. (Which isn’t the worst thing in the world to happen). Just saying.
Serve barely warm, room temperature or cold with whipped cream.