as a pastry chef, it is always fun to take something considered savory and transform it into a dessert. coming up with an original idea is often as easy as taking a slow walk through the produce aisle in the supermarket. during the winter months, the selection of produce can be a bit boring because the variety is not always as abundant. as i shopped for groceries last week, i started out in the produce section since it is right by the main entrance of the store and one of the first things that caught my eye was a display of hard winter squashes; spaghetti, acorn-golden and green and butternut. i like butternut squash and so does the gang at home and i serve it every now and then. we generally like it baked with a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon and a little butter. sort of like a dessert that you can eat first and not feel guilty about. at that moment i wondered, would it make a nice pie? a nice filling for a pecan pie? what about a maple pecan pie…
|something funny happened in the oven-the squash filling rose and the maple custard filling sank!|
1 (9″) prebaked deep dish pie crust-any kind you like, i used a tart dough recipe that has sugar in it but it browned too much so i recommend sticking to pie pastry.
1 1/3 cup baked squash flesh
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) heavy cream
place the squash, sugar, maple syrup and spices in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. process the mixture, scraping the bowl occasionally until it is completely and evenly pureed. add the eggs one at a time and pulse to mix. scape the bowl, add the cream and combine well. pour the mixture into the prebaked pie shell and smooth the top.
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup
preheat the oven to 350. toast the pecans until fragrant, about 7 minutes. in a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar with the melted butter and the cinnamon. whisk in the eggs, one at a time and then whisk in the maple syrup. sprinkle the pecans evenly over the squash filling. carefully pour the maple filling over the pecans. ***do this slowly and hold the bowl close to the pie as you pour-the idea is to make layers and if you pour quickly or from a long distance above the surface you will force the pecans down into the squash layer. bake until the pecan topping puffs up and is firm across the top, 40-45 minutes.
allow to cool before serving and if you like, serve it with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
a few more notes about this pie: the squash could easily be made with any other sweet hard winter squash such as acorn or turban or some other heirloom variety as well as pumpkin. sweet potatoes can also be used in the filling and if you prefer walnuts, go for it!
as always, if you dare to bake along, send me a photo and i will post it firstname.lastname@example.org