Pumpkin pies have been gaining popularity in Ireland around Halloween and our Donegal chef has the perfect, adult, Irish twist on this traditional American Thanksgiving treat.
In recent years, pumpkin pie has become a very popular Halloween dish in Ireland as coffee shops and restaurants have been adding this sweet, mousse-like dessert dish to their seasonal menu.
I'm adding another little piece of Ireland to the Halloween story, by flavoring my pumpkin pie with a little Irish whiskey. You can use whichever brand is your own favorite.
The first recorded recipe for pumpkin pie was published as a "Pompkin Pudding" in 1796, in a book called "American Cookery" by Amelia Simmons. This cookbook is considered to be the first cookery book to be published by an American, in America. Only four copies of the first edition are known to exist.
Pumpkin pie is made in the same way as a baked cheesecake or a custard tart and is flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. If you've never eaten some, you could be excused for thinking that it might taste like a savory vegetable quiche – but it's really more like a sweet cheesecake in a pastry crust.
The gingernut biscuits add flavor and also help to make the base crunchier. The evaporated milk gives a richness to the pie and the Irish whiskey works just perfectly with the spices to give it a yummy taste sensation.
You can make this recipe at any other time of year by substituting butternut squash or sweet potato instead of pumpkin. Their texture and taste are almost the same when flavored and cooked. In the US, you can buy canned puréed pumpkin for use in cooking.
Irish Halloween recipe: Irish whiskey pumpkin pie
This makes one 10" x 1.5" pumpkin pie.
To make the pumpkin puree:
Cut a medium-sized pumpkin into wedges and discard all the seeds. Cook the pumpkin in the microwave on high power for 12 minutes.
Scrape off all the cooked flesh and purée it quickly in a blender until smooth. (If you are using canned pumpkin purée you'll need to spoon it onto a clean tea-towel and squeeze away as much liquid as possible.)
You'll need 400g/14oz prepared pumpkin purée for the pie.
Pie pastry and base:
2 cups plain flour (250g)
1/2 cup butter (100g)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (75g)
1 medium egg
A little cold water
3.5oz crushed gingernut biscuits (100g)
Rub the butter into the flour until it's like breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and mix in.
Break in the egg and quickly pull the pastry together adding a little cold water if needed.
Roll it out and line a floured 10" Pie Dish (about 1.5 " deep).
Trim off any extra pastry.
Crumb the ginger nut biscuits in a blender or by placing them in a sandwich bag and rolling them with a rolling pin until fine.
Sprinkle the biscuit-crumb over the pastry base, pat it down, and refrigerate until needed.
Crush the gingernut biscuits and gently press them onto the sweet pastry.
Irish whiskey pumpkin pie filling:
3 medium eggs
1 cup light brown sugar (160g)
1 2/3 cups (1x 410g can) evaporated milk
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn ground ginger
A pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tspn salt
1 2/3 cup pumpkin purée (400g)
2 tbspn Irish whiskey (35ml)
Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them well.
Add the brown sugar and mix in for 30 seconds until they're thick and creamy.
Add the can of evaporated milk and mix well for about 30 seconds.
Add the pumpkin purée along with the flavorings and mix everything together until smooth.
Lastly, add the whiskey and stir it into the filling.
Carefully pour the mix into your pie dish and tap the side of the dish a few times to help raise the air bubbles to the top.
Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven at 320°F / 160°C for 40 minutes.
Check the pie as you would when testing a sponge cake. It should be soft, but responsive to the touch when it's cooked – giving you a little spring in the center when gently pushed down.
Leave the pie aside, in the dish to set, until cold.
To turn it out, put a flat plate on top of the pie, turn it over tap the bottom of the baking tin. Liftoff the tin gently.
Now put your serving plate on the base of the pie and turn it back over.
It's now ready to serve with a little fresh cream to which another little drop of Irish whiskey has been added.
Give it a try and enjoy!
See www.irishfoodguide.ie for more from chef Zach Gallagher
* Originally published in October 2014. Updated in October 2023.