Cooking

Yes We Can

Six unapologetically easy upgrades to pimp your pumpkin purée

Picking pumpkins has a nice autumnal ring to it.

Picking through pounds of gloppy, stringy pumpkin flesh to get your pie made? Not so nice sounding.

Sometimes you don't want to go from the farm to the table. Sometimes you just wanna go from the can to the pan.

It's OK. We hear you. You're probably pretty busy digging that tandoor oven in your backyard to roast your heritage breed turkey or sous-vide-ing the bird in your bathtub or something.

Relax. Grab a can opener. We polled the staff and called in a few pros for some super easy hacks to improve the canned stuff. 

"This year I plan to roast the purée in the oven," says New York Editor Tressa Eaton. "I'll spread it out on a Silpat-lined baking sheet and let it brown a bit for some extra-deep pumpkin flavor."

Lensman and veteran kitchen-tinkerer Todd Coleman swears by his technique of whipping egg whites with sugar to stiff peaks then folds them into the pumpkin before filling the crust. The result: "A pumpkin pie soufflé that still has a light, airy texture even after it settles."  

"Pumpkin purée can be a little grainy," says French-born New York pastry star Dominique Ansel.  "We strain right away after we mix the purée, and we do it a few extra times just to make sure what we get is a consistent, smooth and silky custard."

Assistant Editor Elyse Inamine plans to add eggs, condensed milk and a touch of vinegar to get a milky sweetness and custardy texture reminiscent of chess pie.

Brendan McHale, executive chef at our Test Kitchen, suggests substituting Chinese five spice powder for typical pumpkin spice. "The flavor's similar enough but that subtle tingling from the Sichuan peppercorn is especially interesting and leaves everyone wondering." 

Kate McMillen of Lauretta Jean's pie bakery in Portland, Oregon, calls herself a pumpkin purist but admits she likes to add some cream cheese to the mix. "I also put crumbled ginger snaps between the crust and the filling to add a textural element." 

Dominique Ansel 189 Spring St. New York NY 10012 212-219-2773 Lauretta Jean's 3402 SE Division St. Portland OR 97202 503-235-3119 Lauretta Jean's at Cafe Velo SW 6th and Pine St. Portland OR 97209 503-224-9236

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