October 19, 2009

Butternut Squash Pie With Pecan Shortbread Crust

The finished product, complete with pecan shortbread crust.
Last weekend, I brought home another 10 pounds or so of butternut squash--quickly becoming a favorite of mine. It's packed full of nutrients and is extremely versatile in the kitchen, like many squash are.

My mom mentioned that I could make pie with it, which of course got me wild about the idea. After scouring recipes and reading all manner of ways to prepare squash for pies, make nut crusts, and find just the right combination of it all to turn it into something spectacular.... It happened.

Though my recipe is based on a combination of several recipes, I took plenty of twists and turns to make this my very own. Some folks were skeptical of another squash pie, but in fact, the flavor is somewhat similar to pumpkin pie, but the texture is a little bit different. Making the puree from fresh squash adds to the delight of both baking and eating this pie.

I made this pie for my cousin's graduation party (yes, I take experimental desserts to parties and then ask everyone to try them.) One woman who tasted the pie knew right away that I'd baked the squash as opposed to steaming it, which was amazing to me because I hemmed and hawed about which to do. And this woman could tell! She said she preferred the texture of baked squash in pie. So, I'd recommend you do the same if you make this. And I highly recommend that you do make this, perhaps as a refreshing new take on Thanksgiving dessert...

The crust taking shape.

Spiced Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan Shortbread Crust

For the crust:
1 cup AP flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbls butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients until pecans are thoroughly chopped, about 15 seconds. Add butter and vanilla, and process until butter is incorporated. Pour the mixture into a 9" springform pan and press until the entire base of the pan is covered, making sure to go about 1/2" up the sides of the pan. Chill the crust in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15. Remove from fridge or freezer and bake until golden, 15-20 minutes. Remove the crust and let cool for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling...

For the pie filling:
2 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
3 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400. Rinse the squash and halve them lengthwise. Clean out the seeds with a spoon (you can reserve these to eat later, like pumpkin seeds). Place skin side down on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, and carefully remove the squash from the skin using a spoon. You want about 2 cups of cooked squash.

Lower heat to 350.

Let squash cool, then puree squash in a food processor until very smooth, adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed. Add the eggs one at a time, processing for one or two seconds each. Then add in the half and half and spices, and process for another 10 seconds or so.

Carefully pour filling into the prebaked crust. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until pie is set.

Serve alone, or better yet... topped with fresh whipped cream.

** If you do not have a food processor, you can accomplish great things with a stand or hand-held mixer. For the crust, just chop the pecans very finely and incorporate the butter with a mixer. For the filling, you can manually press the baked squash through a ricer and then whisk in the other ingredients. Now you have no excuses not to make this pie!


Emily said...

yum! brilliant idea to make the crust using pecans, I must try this!

Suzanne said...

Just heard about your "review," CONGRATULATIONS!! I was going to give this crust a shot at Thanksgiving, and now I can't wait!