GIVE THANKS! Caramel Mascarpone Pumpkin Pie and a BIG WINNER!

I've never posted my traditional pumpkin pie recipe.  Never.  I thought it high time since I made thousands of pumpkin pies every Thanksgiving at Gesine Confectionary.  We'd have requests all year long for our pumpkin pie, that's how damn tasty it is.  But as you'll see, what is meant to be traditional always gets a twist in my hands.  The crust isn't your standard, tough pie dough.  Instead I use quick puff.  It's flaky, sinfully packed with butter and is the perfect foil for the sweet filling.  My recipe gives you dough left over to freeze up to a month or to use as a shell for you Thanksgiving leftovers (it's just as good with savory as it is with sweet).

The filling is a combination of salted caramel and creamy pumpkin with a hint of tart mascarpone along for the ride.  Top with luscious mascarpone whipped cream and you'll realize that you've just tasted what all pumpkin pies aspire to be.

OH!  And in case you were wondering, the winner of the Vermont Creamery giveaway is.... LENaile.  Please email me at with your shipping info.  Here's the comment in question:

Blogger LENaile said...
Yum! This cake looks incredible!
November 8, 2012 11:47 AM

(Makes 1 - 9" deep dish pumpkin pie)


For the quick puff

2 pounds unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and a bit colder than room temperature
2 pounds COLD all purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/4 cups cold water

Extra flour for rolling

(For the letters, egg wash and a few tablespoons of Sugar in the Raw)

For the filling

2 cups pumpkin purée
1 cup heavy cream
1 carton (8 ounces) mascarpone (I use Vermont Creamery)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
squirt lemon juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger

For the topping

4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Give Hanks!  Coincidence?  I think not.  Because don't we all give thanks for the T. Hanks on Turkey Day?


For the quick puff

Preheat oven to 375º.

•Combine the flour, butter and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Using the tips of your fingers, work the butter into the flour until you have a very chunky mixture (you do NOT want to work the butter in so well that it resembles a biscuit dough.  You still want discernible dime sized chunks of butter).

Butter integrated into the flour...waiting for water.

•Stir the cold water into the flour/butter mixture to distribute and then, using your hands, work the moisture into the flour/butter mixture very gently, turning the dough over itself to make sure there are no overly dry spots or wet spots.  This is NOT kneading but a gentle dough tumble.  Once the moisture is evenly distributed, smoosh the dough down into a tight package in the bowl (it will still look too dry...that's PERFECT!).
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for ten minutes.

•Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (in other words, just tip the bowl over and dump the dough).


•Roll the dough out into a rough 12" x 24" rectangle.  Press down firmly as you roll.

large rectangle of shaggy dough.
***  A NOTE FROM MY PIE HOLE:  I've taught and demoed this dough hundreds of times and each and every time, my students are aghast at the appearance of this shaggy mess when I start.  But then I explain that the beauty of any great pie dough is knowing that it's supposed to look butt(er) ugly before it turns into a beautiful dough.  Too many people over work pie tough, making it tough and utterly inedible.  The main culprit is adding far too much moisture and then overworking the dough.  Most people when starting the process, whether they use a pastry blender, a food processor or their hands, want the dough to immediately transform into a smooth dough ball.  I say, "Not so fast!"  When I make a simple pie dough in a food processor, I pulse just  until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  I then pinch the dough to see if it holds together.  To look at the mess, a novice would say "HELL NO!"  But I say, "YESSIREE BOB!"  I then pat the dough into a firm little disk and cover with plastic wrap to allow the moisture to continue saturating the dough.  You see, flour LOVES moisture and it continues to absorb the water as it rests.  If you add too much water and then overwork the dough, the flour will start getting it's moisture sucking paws on the butter and the flour will essentially consume the buttery goodness for it's own, leaving you nothing to create a lovely flakey puffiness in the oven.  You WANT to see bits of butter because that's what creates the pockets of puff and flakey.  If it's disappeared, you've gone too far (that is, if you're making flakey pie dough).  Quick puff is the superior example of how butter and flour and just a bit of moisture can work together to make the most beautiful and insanely flakey pastry doughs.  ***

•At this point, the dough is going to be an utter mess.  Your going to make your first letter (or single) turn but unlike folding a business letter (hence the name of the fold) your sheet of dough isn't going to comply so neatly.  First, take one third of the dough and fold it towards the middle.  Some of the dough will stay behind.  Bits and blobs will fall about willy nilly.  Just smoosh those bits back in.

First third folded over.  It looks a bloody mess, right?  PERFECT!

•Then fold the other third over top the first fold (like folding a business letter).  Again, smoosh all those stray bits back into the dough.  Pat everything firmly together and then turn the dough 90 degrees so that the long end faces you.

Oh lordy, what a mess it is to fold that second half over.  But isn't it beautiful?  It is to me!
First turn DONE!  WOOHOO!  Take a deep breath.
•Your going to do this three more times, rolling the dough out into a large rectangle, making a letter fold and then turning the dough 90 degrees to begin again.  By the time you start your third fold, your dough should start holding together pretty well.  Make sure you continue adding flour to your work surface and clean off your rolling pin from time to time.

By the third letter fold, the dough should start coming together.

•Before your fourth and last fold, clean your work surface using a bench scraper.  Apply another light layer of flour to your surface.  Clean your rolling pin.  Roll the dough out into your rectangle and before you start your last turn, trim the edges of your dough.

I always feel so much better after a good trim.  
•Do your final turn, cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes so that the dough gets a good rest.


•Once the dough has rested, cut off about 1/6 of the dough block and roll into a very rough 13" circle.  Using a VERY sharp knife, trim the dough to a very neat 12" circle.

Make sure to use a very sharp knife and don't press down on the edges of the dough.  You want the puff to PUFF and pressing on the edges will cramp the dough's style.
***A NOTE FROM MY PIE HOLE:  If you're looking for the kind of pie dough that does all your bidding, that will stay crimped in the heat of the oven, this is not the dough for you.  You'll notice, though, that those very compliant doughs aren't particularly tasty and aren't flaky.  I tell my students that this is the gateway dough, it leads you to the best pastry pastures from croissant to mille feuille to kouign amann.  And since the purpose of this dough is to puff and flake (or as I tell my classes "Let it make JAZZ HANDS!"), crimping the edges of this dough stamps down the puffy in the puff.  I just make a very clean cut and gently place the dough into the pan and let it do it's thing...which is to PUFF!***

JAZZ HANDS!!!  This is a puffed edge and it tells the story of this dough's flakiness.  Show it off!

•Line your pie plate with the dough by first gently rolling the dough onto your pin.

Dough on a pin
•Dock the dough, line with parchment and fill with pie weights or dry beans (I use a mixture of both).

Half way finished with docking the dough

Full of beans!
•Bake for 10  to 15 minutes or just until the sides begin to puff.  Remove the weights (grab the edges of the parchment and remove the weights all together.  Keep them nestled in the parchment as you'll need this in a few minutes), bake for 10 minutes more or just until the bottom of the dough begins to lose it's raw dough sheen and starts to puff.  Take the pie crust from the oven and immediately place the parchment and weights back into the pie plate to gently weight down the puffed crust.  Take back out and allow to cool.

For the letters

•Cut off a little less than 1/4 of the puff and roll to about 1/8" thick.  Using large letter cookie cutters, stamp out "Give Thanks."  Place on a parchment lined sheet pan and brush with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 tablespoons water) and sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw.  Bake until puffed and lightly golden brown.  Allow to cool completely

For the filling

•Combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water. salt and a squirt of lemon juice in a large saucepan.  Stir over medium low heat until the sugar has completely melted.  Stop stirring, attach a candy thermometer and caramelize the sugar to the point that it looks medium amber.

• Immediately add the cream and step away, the mixture will bubble like crazy.  Stir over low heat until any hardened caramel melts into the cream making sure that the temperature of the caramel doesn't rise about 240º.  Stir in the mascarpone until it has dissolved into the caramel.  Stir in the pumpkin purée, brown sugar, vanilla and spices into the mixture and allow to cool.  Whisk in the eggs until the mixture is very smooth.

•Pour the filling into the prepare pie crust and carefully transfer to the oven.  Lower the oven temperature to 350º.  Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.  Could take longer in your oven.  What I watch for is for the first 2 inches of the edge of the pie filing to puff up and for the middle to still have a slight wobble.  I then turn the oven off and open the oven doors, allowing the pie to slowly cool.  You can also shove a digital thermometer into the middle of the pie filling and if it reads 180º, you're all good.

For the topping

•Once the pie is completely cool, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone and confectioner's sugar in a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.  Whip until stiff peaks form.  Transfer the whipped cream to a large pastry bag fit with a leaf tip.  Pipe ruffles on the pie, starting at the outer edge and spiraling in.

•Gently place the letters on top of the pie and give thanks.

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