From America's Test Kitchen Season 10: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
Too often, pumpkin pie appears at the end of a Thanksgiving meal as a grainy, overspiced, canned-pumpkin custard encased in a soggy crust. We wanted to create a pumpkin pie recipe destined to be a new classic: velvety smooth, packed with pumpkin flavor, and redolent of just enough fragrant spices.
Canned pumpkin contains moisture, which dilutes a pie’s flavor. To maximize flavor, we concentrated this liquid by cooking the pumpkin with sugar and spices, then whisked in heavy cream, milk, and eggs. This improved the flavor and the hot filling let the custard firm up quickly in the oven, preventing it from soaking into the crust. For spices, we chose nutmeg, cinnamon, and, surprisingly, freshly grated ginger. Sugar and maple syrup sweetened things, but tasters still craved a more complex pie. On a whim, we added mashed roasted yams to the filling and tasters appreciated the deeper flavor. To streamline the recipe we switched to canned candied yams and cooked them with the pumpkin. To keep the custard from curdling, we started the pie at a high temperature for 10 minutes, followed by a reduced temperature for the remainder of the baking time. This cut the baking time to less than one hour and the dual temperatures produced a creamy pie fully and evenly cooked from edge to center.
Makes one 9-inch pie
If candied yams are unavailable, regular canned yams can be substituted. The best way to judge doneness is with an instant-read thermometer. The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly. The pie finishes cooking with residual heat; to ensure that the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator. To ensure accurate cooking times and a crisp crust, the filling should be added to the prebaked crust when both the crust and filling are warm. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute.