My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

with a caramel swirl

We had a fantastic New Year’s. Kramer and I both took the day off on Tuesday to just chill out at home and enjoy what was left of the holidays before they were completely over. Since we were going to be able to sleep in, we went out to dinner at River Styx on Monday night for a bit of an early anniversary celebration. Dinner was awesome, especially the fancy nachos (believe it, folks), and the drinks were equally delicious. After eating, we met up with Morgan to watch The Simpsons at Nitehawk before hanging out a bit longer and heading home. On Tuesday, we slept in, had breakfast, then watched a movie and relaxed while I did a bit of cooking for our friend’s New Year’s Eve party. I made puff pastry tarts with caramelized onions and balsamic, chorizo and roasted pepper macaroni and cheese, chocolate chip cookies and this pumpkin pie. We had a great time at the party, and even got to see a few fireworks from their beautiful roof! We had our champagne toasts, our midnight kiss and were asleep by 2am (AKA perfection). Wednesday was a lot of the same. We walked over to Roberta’s for breakfast, came home and watched some movies, ordered in some pasta for dinner as our last hoorah before jumping back on the sensible eating wagon for 2014 and split a bottle of wine. I have no complaints about 2013. This year, I started a new job that I absolutely love, the blog has been doing well, I got to go on Anderson Cooper and we did plenty of traveling. We went to Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver over the Fourth of July, headed out to the Hamptons to see Kramer’s family, and had lots of taco and frozen sangria-filled trips to Rockaway Beach. I went to Las Vegas for my friend’s bachelorette party (as well as went to my very first night club/discotheque/etc. and danced in public for the first time), followed by Cancun for their wedding with Kramer. 2014 is already shaping up to give 2013 a run for its money, so I can’t wait to get started.

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

As I mentioned, Kramer and I celebrated our anniversary a bit early this year. The actual anniversary is today – we’ve officially been married for four years. Ta-da! I can’t believe it’s been four years since we walked down the aisle. It doesn’t seem like all that long. Kramer and I have been dating for over nine years and have been living together for over seven years. We’ve grown up together. We’ve become adults together and shared so much – graduations, first jobs, a move to New York and more. Things aren’t always perfect, but in general, it’s pretty close. Everyone says this, but I truly am married to my best friend. We have the same interests, the same sense of humor, and sometimes even the same ideas. We give one another an appropriate amount of guff for doing something dumb, but we appreciate each other’s sarcasm more than anything. We spend most of our time together and we support one another. He is always on my mind. I want everything for him and I know he wants the same for me. When I’ve had a bad day, I can come home and know that he’ll make me dinner and cheer me up. When something good happens, he’s the first one there ready to celebrate with me. Every morning when I leave for work, he gives me a hug and a kiss and tells me the same thing: “How are you so pretty?” It’s definitely not the worst way to start the day. I know that this all sounds absolutely nauseating, but it’s our anniversary, so cut me some slack. I love him so much and I am so incredibly lucky to be his wife. Here’s to yet another incredible year (and many moreeee).

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

If you survived the sentimental blathering, congratulations. I’m proud of you. You will be rewarded with this pumpkin pie recipe. It is my absolute favorite recipe, but that’s mostly to do with the pumpkin pie filling. I used an all-butter crust for this version, which really needs a little pre-baking in the oven so that the sides of the pie crust don’t fall (butter has a low melting point, etc. etc. science), so if you don’t feel like doing all of that, you can use my trusty butter and shortening pie crust recipe, found here or on any other pie recipe that I’ve posted. Pie crust aside, the secret to this pumpkin pie is a whole can of sweetened condensed milk. It’s thick, sweet, creamy and absolutely delicious when paired with pumpkin puree and cinnamon (I like to keep it relatively simple when it comes to pumpkin pie). To make this pie special for New Year’s, I swirled in some of the caramel I had left over from Fat Toad Farm (I made more caramely desserts for them earlier this year). For the pièce de résistance, I topped the pie with some granulated sugar and brûléed it with my culinary torch (they are super fun – I highly recommend picking one up). You don’t have to take all of these extra steps, though – the pie is absolutely perfect on its own. I’ve brought it to two different parties now and I’m not too shy to say that I’ve had more than a few people tell me that it’s the best pumpkin pie that they’ve ever had. I swear that it’s all about the sweetened condensed milk. Some secret ingredient, right? I know that it’s the new year and everyone’s ready to diet and get to the gym and blah blah blah, but we’ve all got a few more parties to go to this winter, and for those of us who aren’t ready to let the holidays disappear quite yet, this pumpkin pie is an excellent way to keep on clinging.

My Favorite Pumpkin PieHot toddies, bacon caramel candies and Kramer being adorable.
My Favorite Pumpkin PieMaking cookies, chorizo mac and cheese (recipe to follow), broccoli and kale salad with anchovy at Roberta’s and a last holiday beer.

My Favorite Pumpkin PieWeight your pie crust down and bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden.

My Favorite Pumpkin PieMake your pie filling – the sweetened condensed milk is the most delicious part.

My Favorite Pumpkin PiePour your pie filling into the shell and swirl with your caramel, if you’re using it.

My Favorite Pumpkin PieAllow the pie to cool before slicing!

My Favorite Pumpkin PieYou can brûlée the top, if you like.

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 slices
For your Pie Crust:
  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⅓ cup unsalted butter, COLD (NOT room temperature), cubed
  • ⅔ cup ice water, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup caramel (optional)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (for the crust)
For your Pie Crust:
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the chopped pieces of cold butter. Blend together with your hands (or, alternatively, a food processor) until you have coarse crumbs (it doesn’t have to be perfect). You can use a pastry cutter, too, but I find that a clean pair of hands work best. Place the dough back into the fridge for 15 minutes or so, so it stays cold.
  2. Mix together the water and vinegar in a small bowl. When ready, slowly drizzle it over the dough, a tablespoon or so at a time, gently stirring the mixture with a fork or pulsing with your processor, until fully incorporated and the dough forms into a nice ball. You may not need all of the water. It might seem a bit too wet at this point, but it will dry up while it sits in the fridge. Form the dough gently into 2 loose balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or as long as overnight (I always let mine go overnight). Obviously this recipe makes 2 crusts' worth of pie - your other pie crust will freeze well for up to 3 months.
For the Pumpkin Pie:
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk together your pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Roll out your pie crust on a lightly floured surface and place it in your pie dish. Crimp the edges and place the pie crust in the freezer for 10 minutes. Place a piece of parchment paper in your pie crust and weigh it down with some pie weights (I used dried beans). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden, then pull the crust out of the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F.
  3. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust and brush the crust with your beaten egg. Drizzle the caramel (if you're using it) on top of the pumpkin filling and use a chopstick to swirl the caramel around. I like to put a foil guard around my pie dish to keep the crust from browning too much, but this is up to you. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the pumpkin pie filling is set. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. If you like, you can brûlée the top of the pie by sprinkling sugar over the top and torching with a culinary torch (I like to do this for fun but it's totally optional).


17 Responses

  1. We chilled out on new years too! Also, I can totally see why this pie is your fav…I LOVE that caramel sauce!

  2. I came down with a bit of a headcold this week and had to bail on our NYE plans — fortunately, the folk in our neighborhood setting off fireworks at midnight made sure I didn’t sleep straight through to the New Year! Happy anniversary to you guys! You seem like a great pair, I’m so glad you got to marry your best friend (I did, too).

    This pie does look like a favorite — I’ll have to try this version, especially with the caramel! I refuse to just save fun things like pumpkin pie for certain times of the year, I think we should enjoy them whenever…. I plan to bake gingerbread this week in fact :) Cheers!

  3. Stacey Evans says:

    Your post made me cry! So very sweet, Happy Anniversary you two! You make the perfect couple, and as you know I too, married my best friend! All your recipes for New Years sound amazing, especially the mac and cheese! Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary!

  4. Oooh, I’ve never tried adding sweetened condensed milk (or caramel) to pumpkin pie. Sounds incredible! P.S. Happy anniversary!

  5. Elena says:

    Happy anniversary!!!

  6. Amanda says:

    I have to ask, where did that adorable pie dish come from? I’ve been looking for one with handles after a few too many oven burns!

    • Sydney says:

      Hi Amanda – I honestly don’t know anymore! I’ve had it for years. I think it may have been a gift from Kramer’s aunt from Home Goods.

  7. Caitlin H. says:

    Happy anniversary Sydney! We’re also about to hit our 4-year mark, and I’m so excited. I’m glad you post about how much you two love each other – it seems way too common to rag on your spouse these days; simple and glowing admiration is refreshing. Keep it up! And I can’t wait to see what other delicious adventures are in store in 2014!

  8. Happy Anniversary! Hoping for a great 2014! I also hope it includes more recipes like this! Adding caramel and bruleeing the top was genius!

  9. CakePants says:

    What a delicious twist on a classic! What a great post, too – happy anniversary!

  10. Sasha says:

    Thanks a lot, Sydney. I’m practically teary-eyed over here from reading all that mushy stuff… (Congrats! And cheers to many more years together.)

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