Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just Desserts: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel Topping

If you, like me, have a pumpkin pie lover in your midst, then this is a very special time of year.  The Girl requests a pumpkin pie for her birthday every September; and, since Thanksgiving isn’t all that far behind, she doesn’t have to wait too long before it shows up on the dinner table again.  It’s one of the easiest things in the world to make, but eating pumpkin any time other than the fall just feels wrong to me.  Kind of like eating soup in the summer, or popsicles on Christmas Eve.  It’s not illegal, just wrong.

I’m going to confess something now:  I like pumpkin pie.  I really do.  Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without it.  But it always struck me as, well, kind of plain.  That is, until my friend Elsiann Wilson contributed her pumpkin pie recipe to our family cookbook many years ago.  Elsiann’s version is lighter on the pumpkin than the usual pie filling and includes a delicious crunchy topping.  There’s nothing plain about it, apart from the fact that it’s just plain awesome.

The only changes I’ve made to Elsiann’s original recipe are increasing the amount of nutmeg by half (because, as we’ve established, I’m a nutmeg nut) and specifying pecans, rather than chopped nuts, for the streusel topping.  Pumpkin and pecans belong together.  It’s a scientific fact.  They’re like the Donny and Marie of holiday sweets–one without the other is okay in small doses, but together, they make their own special magic.

This recipe makes two pies.  If you have a pumpkin pie purist at your holiday gathering, just leave the topping off one pie and double up on the other.  More crunch to love.


Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel Topping


2 unbaked pie crusts

For the filling:
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cans evaporated milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg

For the Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix all the filling ingredients well. Divide the pumpkin filling between the two pie shells and cover the exposed edges of the pie crusts with aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 degrees and continue baking 45 minutes longer.

While the pies are baking, use a pastry cutter to combine the sugar, flour, butter and pecans. 10 minutes before the pies are done, sprinkle the streusel over the filling and remove the aluminum foil. Bake the remaining 10 minutes, until the crusts are golden brown.


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2 Responses to “Just Desserts: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel Topping”

  1. 1

    Anonymous — November 21, 2010 @ 1:04 am

    When I saw this on facebook I was excited as I thought it might be similar to my family pumpkin pie recipe and I've never seen it anywhere else. I was so excited to see that it was one and the same. I do always use pecans as well. It actually is a recipe my mom came up with as she thought, like you, that pumpkin pie was plain and also had a stronger spice flavor than she liked. It is my favorite pie by far and one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. I never make it except for the holidays but as much as I love it I should! I'm glad you like it too. Elsiann

  2. 2

    Pam — November 21, 2010 @ 1:35 am

    Oh Elsiann, I love this recipe. Pumpkin pie is such a standard, but the topping on this recipe takes it up a notch. Plus, I like that the filling is less dense because the pumpkin is spread out between two pies. That makes it lighter in contrast to the topping. Your mom was a pumpkin genius!

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