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    Pumpkin Hazelnut Pie with Hazelnut Cookie Crust 
and Chocolate Drizzle

    Sublime Tweak on Traditional Sweet

    Nothing radical mind you. Not trying to incite a riot here. You got riots enough already with all those relatives and who-all. This is just a subtle but truly sublime twist on a favorite traditional pie, and you’ve probably already got almost all the ingredients already, so give it a whirl if you’re feeling creative. And bask in the glory of the compliments… Our Thanksgiving gift to you, from California Cooking and Southern Style.

    Happy Thanksgiving, and keep the feast,

    Love, Frances and Chef Stephanie

    Pumpkin Hazelnut Pie with Hazelnut Cookie Crust and Chocolate Drizzle, from California Cooking and Southern Style, a most excellent cookbook ;)
    Pumpkin Hazelnut Pie with Hazelnut Cookie Crust
    and Chocolate Drizzle, from California Cooking and Southern Style, a most excellent cookbook 😉

    Pumpkin Hazelnut Pie with Hazelnut Cookie Crust
    and Chocolate Drizzle
    Makes 1 10-inch pie
    Not your granny’s punkin’ pie, though nothing wrong with that. This is simply THE best pumpkin pie EVER. Takes some doing but worth every minute, pinky swear. Best to make a day ahead to allow time to chill. We generally make this with hazelnuts, but pecans or almonds will do as well. You may omit the ladyfingers but they do add a little tiramisu-ish layer of interest. Recipe for Chocolate Sauce follows.

    For the crust
    8 tablespoons butter, divided into 2 tablespoons for greasing the pie pan, and 6 tablespoons melted for the crust
    ½ cup hazelnuts, pecans or almonds, toasted
    ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    6 tablespoons sugar
    ½ teaspoon salt

    For the filling
    6 egg yolks
    6 tablespoons sugar, divided
    2 8-ounce containers of mascarpone, at room temperature
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    12 ladyfingers
    ¼ cup Grand Marnier
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/3 cup chocolate sauce, recipe follows

    To make the crust
    Preheat the oven to 375°F.
    Use 2 tablespoons of butter to generously grease a 10-inch pie plate.
    Process the toasted nuts in a food processor until fine, but not a paste, about 1 minute. Add the flour, sugar and salt and whir until blended. Add the melted butter to the bowl and pulse until just combined and the consistency of wet sand. Press all but ¼ cup of the crust firmly and evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Press the reserved ¼ cup of crust mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. (This will be crumbled later for the topping.) Bake the crusts 12 to 15 minutes, until just browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Crumble and set aside the ¼ cup batch.

    To make the filling
    Beat the yolks with 3 tablespoons of the sugar until thick and pale in color, about 5 minutes. Blend in the mascarpone and pumpkin puree. In a shallow bowl stir together the Grand Marnier and 1 tablespoon of sugar, and soak the ladyfingers in the liqueur. Into the baked and cooled pie crust, spread half of the pumpkin mixture, and layer over with the ladyfingers (if using). Spread on the remaining pumpkin mixture and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
    Whip the heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form, and spread over the pie. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and sprinkle with the reserved crumbled crust. Serve with more chocolate sauce on the side if you like.

    Chocolate Sauce
    Makes 1½ cups
    We prefer the alkalized dutch process cocoa powder for this silky rich Chocolate Sauce because it is less acidic than natural cocoa powder and has an earthier flavor, but the natural cocoa powder will work as well.

    ½ cup sugar
    ½ cup cocoa powder
    ½ cup honey, agave or corn syrup
    ½ cup cream
    2 tablespoons butter
    ½ cup semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips

    In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, mix the sugar, cocoa, honey or syrup, and cream with ½ cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the butter and chocolate chips until melted. Store in a heatproof glass container for easy reheating in a microwave or makeshift double boiler. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator and may be thinned with a bit of water.

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