You know, pie really is something that shouldn’t be reserved only for few-and-far-between holidays or events when the guest list contains an ample amount of people. The only issue, of course, is that generally an entire pie is far too much for one person, a couple, or even a small household to reasonably eat in the timeframe necessary. Sometimes just one serving would do the trick, right? That’s what I was thinking when the weekend warranted pumpkin pie, but I didn’t have a handful of guests to serve it to. That’s when the custard trick fit the bill quite perfectly. I keep small portioned amounts of pumpkin pie filling, divided into zip-top bags [from my favorite recipe here.] I let it thaw overnight, divide it into ramekins, bake as I would a pie [dialing down the time needed by about a third] and top with cream and cinnamon sugar. Just delightful.
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For when one desires pumpkin pie without all the work and all the leftovers. A simple way to enjoy the dreaminess of pumpkin custard on a weeknight, for a small gathering, or on a rainy day when things like pumpkin custards are in order. The point here is to freeze the amount of filling in each zip-top bag as you see yourself using each time. Then, when the desire strikes, thaw a batch a day before baking. All that remains to be done is bake and eat!
Adapted minimally from Smitten Kitchen, originally adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes 10-12 total servings [to be divided into 5 or 6 zip-top bags, frozen, and thawed separately as needed]
1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams (one 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt
Freshly whipped cream, for serving
Cinnamon sugar, for serving
Make the filling:
Whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Place the pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir together with a sturdy rubber spatula or thick wooden spoon over medium heat, until mixture starts to simmer and sputter, about 5-10 minutes. Mash the yams against the sides and bottom of the pot to start breaking them apart, but don’t be too worried about breaking them apart completely. Simmer the mixture until it becomes thick and shiny, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk in the cream mixture very slowly until it is fully integrated with the pumpkin mixture. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender on a high speed until completely smooth – you don’t want any chunks or lumps! Divide evenly into 5 or 6 freezer zip-top bags, carefully press out the air, and seal tightly. Freeze [except for one batch, of course, to be enjoyed soon!]
Divide a batch of filing amongst a few ramekins, about 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake until edges are completely set, and the filling registers 175 degrees F (about 30 minutes longer; watch carefully depending on the size of your ramekin and how fast your filling bakes.)
Let the custards cool on the counter at room temperature for at least 2-3 hours before serving to ensure the filling sets. Serve with freshly whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon sugar, if desired.
Leftovers will keep at room temperature, covered, for 2-3 days.
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