There are too many good recipes to share with you all this month! I usually only post two recipes a week, but this month I just couldn't get everything to fit into that schedule. My options were to ditch a recipe or publish an extra, and well, the answer was clear once we had a bite of this butternut squash pie with pecan crumble crust.
My good friend had a butternut squash pie making craze last year, and while he seems to now be over that caramelly, cinnamon-y flavor, I'm still stuck on it.
What I needed though, to really make the ultimate butternut squash pie, was an alternate crust. I've always been partial to graham cracker crusts (the kind you find on many cheesecakes) but wanted to keep this recipe from-scratch and grain-free.
Pondering this crust dilemma brought me to pecans. It wasn't sure pecans would work in place of graham crackers, but I had a hunch. I was nervous about it, putting the pie into the oven. A few friends stopped by and I explained to them it was just an experiment and could go terribly wrong.
Out of the oven it came and I was, even then, a little nervous. I took pictures, serving everyone else, and then grabbed the last piece for myself, topping it with an oversized dollop of whipped cream.
It was my butternut-pie-making-friend who said it first: a crust made of pecans is like a butternut pie inside of a pecan pie. A custardy filling nestled inside a crunchy, sweet, nutty shell.
He was right: it was a butternut squash pie inside of a pecan pie. The butter and sugar caramelized in the oven while the pecans toasted, making something so delicious it stole the show, even from the pie filling itself.
In this pie, crust is no longer just a vehicle for transporting filling. It's a part of the experience, as must as every other ingredient.
Serves: 8 | Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
For the crust:
- 2 cups pecans
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon For the filling:
- 10 ounces frozen cubed butternut squash, thawed
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup wildflower honey
- 2/3 cup half-and-half
- 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract To serve:
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease an 9-inch ceramic or glass pie pan .
- Put pecans in a food processor and pulse to grind them into a fine crumb. Scrape sides frequently to ensure even chopping. Few larger chunks should remain (several are ok but for the most part you are looking for an even, fine crumb). Scrape pecan crumbs into a bowl, and add sugar and melted butter. Use a spatula to stir until everything is combined and crumb should stick together when squeezed between two fingers. Now, press crumb mixture into prepared pie pan, working it up the sides and into an even layer along the bottom to form a crust. Tip: use the flat bottom of a glass to make a smooth bottom. Make sure there are no gaps or cracks, and then set aside.
- In a blender, combine: thawed butternut squash, sugar, honey, half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Puree until completely smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Then, allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes so any air bubbles have time to float to the top.
- Pour butternut mixture into prepared pie shell, filling it until almost—but not quite- full (shoot for 90-95% full). Place in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until custard filling jiggles slightly in the middle but not at the edges. Turn heat off, and allow pie to cook in oven with the door open for 10-15 minutes. This super slow cooling method will prevent the custard filling from cracking.
- While the pie cools, make the whipped cream. Add heavy cream to a bowl and whip with an electric mixture until it beings to hold peaks. Add vanilla, and beat 30 more seconds.
- Serve pie with dollops of whipped cream (ice cream would be good as well!).