In my family, we always have an ice cream cake for Thanksgiving. Weird I know, but it’s a tradition my grandma started many years ago. She had three girls, one husband and five grandkids and almost all of us have birthdays within a week of the holiday. So when we would all get together as a family to sit down and eat the festive meal, she would make sure that all of our birthdays got celebrated too. It was supposed to be a surprise every year, but we all knew it was coming–a Carvel ice cream cake with cookie crumbs, loaded with candles and decorated with all of our names in sticky frosting. And while this was always one of my favorite traditions, it was not even close to my favorite dessert. No, that special designation is reserved for pumpkin pie.
For years, while everyone was reaching for more of my grandma’s mile-high-apple-pie and her not-so-surprising ice cream cake I would be gleefully piling my plate with generous slices of the custardy sweet. It was only recently that I came to the heartbreaking (yes, my love runs that deep) realization that I wouldn’t be indulging this year–pumpkin pie is usually loaded with a decadent dose of dairy.
Well, not having pumpkin pie was not going to work for me so I set out to make a me-friendly version–one that didn’t feel like a consolation prize. Something that tasted as good as those pumpkin pies of Thanksgivings past, where I would forget I wasn’t eating my heavy cream and evaporated milk loaded sweet.
This version is just as rich and custardy as the pumpkin pies I remember and a little more grown up, thanks to the addition of ginger and a nice bourbon (because, well, bourbon). An added bonus? For those of us with tiny kitchens and even tinier ovens (seriously, the cookie sheet I bought at the dollar store last week was too big to fit in my oven) this pie doesn’t take up precious real estate–it can all be made on your stove top.
Bourbon Pumpkin Pie
Ginger Snap Crust
1 1/2 cups gluten-free ginger snap crumbs, about 8 cookies pulverized in a food processor (I used Tree of Life ginger cookies)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tbsps. Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread, melted
Bourbon Pumpkin Pie Filling
3 1/2 tbsps. corn starch
1 1/2 tsps. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsps. bourbon vanilla powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 tbsps. brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsps. decent bourbon
4 tbsps. dark maple syrup
2 tbsps. cream from the top of a full fat coconut milk can
For the Crust: Stir together the ginger snap crumbs and brown sugar until well combined. Slowly add the melted butter, one tablespoon at a time, until your mixture resembles the texture of moist sand–you want it just wet enough that the mixture clings to itself but not so wet that moisture is squeezed out when you press the mixture together. Gently press the crumbs into a 9″ pie tin, covering the bottom and the sides. Set aside while you make the pie filling.
For the Filling: Add the corn starch, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and brown sugar to a medium saucepan and whisk together until well combined. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients while whisking, to ensure you have a smooth mixture with no lumps. Set the heat at medium high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to prevent the bottom from scalding. Reduce to a simmer stirring every two minutes or so to prevent lumps from forming. This is very important, you want the mixture to be as smooth as possible. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the mixture is very thick and jiggly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the filling–you don’t want a skin to form. Refrigerate until cool–about 2 hours.
To Assemble: Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top with a spatula, Cover with plastic wrap (making sure it touches the top of the pie) and refrigerate overnight. Serve with your favorite vegan ice cream or whip cream. Serves 8-12.