By Richard Thomas
When beer-makers started introducing bourbon pumpkin spice ale several years ago, I was ecstatic, combining as it did three of my favorite things: dark beer, bourbon whiskey and the flavor of pumpkin pie. The idea of making a bourbon-flavored pumpkin pie didn’t occur to me at that time, because like most Americans I bought my pumpkin pies at the supermarket. On the off chance I wanted a yummy slice of pumpkin pie during the spring or summer, I bought a frozen pie. Whether it was fresh or frozen, those pies could not be turned into bourbon pumpkin pies.
Then I moved to Portugal, and pumpkin pie disappeared… or at least it did until I found a supplier of Libby’s canned pumpkin. With the key missing ingredient in hand, I started making my favorite autumnal and winter desert. I always tinker with recipes, so naturally I had the idea for bourbon pumpkin pie.
As usual with my whiskey recipes, use a middling, mass market bourbon for making this pie, such as Maker’s Mark or Four Roses Yellow Label. Anything better is wasted, but anything inferior might spoil the flavor of the pie.
One 29 oz. can of pumpkin
Two 14 oz. cans of condensed milk
Dough or pie shell for a 10-inch wide pie
Two tsp. of cinnamon*
One tsp. of nutmeg*
One tsp. of powdered ginger*
1/4 cup of bourbon whiskey
* Substitute 1 1/2 tbsp. of pumpkin spice if you have that spice mix available
Pre-heat the oven to 425 F.
Stir the canned pumpkin, condensed milk and the eggs together in a mixing bowl. Thoroughly blend those ingredients before adding the pumpkin spices and bourbon, and stir those in as well.
I find the bourbon is the most stubborn ingredient in terms of thoroughly blending it into the mixture, so expect it to require plenty of stirring to make the pumpkin mixture absorb the whiskey. Initially the bourbon will make the mixture more liquid than is usual for homemade pumpkin pies, but the pie will still congeal properly in the oven. The proportions I list will fill a 10-inch pie up just short of the rim.
Place the pie in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. When that time has elapsed, reduce the heat to 325 F and bake the pie for a further 30 to 45 minutes. By this time the pie crust should be golden brown, and the pumpkin mixture completely baked. Usually the center will have a fissure or two, which is a good sign the pie is thoroughly congealed. If this hasn’t happened, tap the top of the pie’s center gently with your fingertip to check just how solid it is underneath. If it is still semi-liquid, put the pie back in the oven for another 10 minutes.