So I had a lot of leftover pumpkin lying around after doing R&D on my calabaza en tacha clafoutis, so I had to figure out how to get rid of it. After blending it up into a puree, I found that the only thing I could feasibly do with pureed pumpkin(that was already sweetened) was make a king of pumpkin pie! Previously, I have made variations on pumpkin pie, flavored with dulce de leech or Thai tea. In this case, I wanted to go another route, and since I had a butter mochi-crack pie on my to-bake list, I figured I’d check two boxes off at once, and combine the two ideas into one! And that’s how the pumpkin-butter mochi pie was born!
For those who aren’t familiar with butter mochi, it is a Hawaiian snack, made with glutinous rice flour(called mochiko), evaporated milk, lots of sugar, and even more butter. The end result if this gooey, sweet, chewy, buttery goodness that is guaranteed to make you go up at least two pants sizes. But it’s totally worth it. By adding pumpkin and cinnamon to it, I can make the butter mochi more fall-inspired, while still capturing that gooey, decadent butter mochi experience. Since the butter mochi mixture is super rich, and as it’s being served in a pie crust, which means more butter, I wanted to cut through that fat with something tangy and acidic. That’s where creme fraiche comes in. Creme fraiche is a French sour cream, but less watery, and more cream cheese-like in texture. It is soft and silky, a complimentary texture to the gooey pumpkin butter mochi and the flaky, butter crust, while adding a tartness that will help cut through the rich, sweet flavors of the other components.
In the case of this recipe, I went ahead and piped some creme fraiche directly into the pie filling, just so that when it all bakes together, it will form a fun pattern on the surface of the pie! I also used the remaining creme fraiche to make a whipped topping, which is also going to be adorned with some toasted pepitas(pumpkin seeds), confectioner’s sugar, and of course, cinnamon, because pumpkin pie without cinnamon or some kind of spicing sounds sacrilegious. That and without the cinnamon, pumpkin on its own can taste kind of like cardboard. So it really lives for all of the brown butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon that I’m throwing at it.
Other things to note are the crust. I went with a straightforward method of crumbing the flour, butter, sugar, and salt together, and then mixing into that cold spiced rum. I went with rum since the spices compliment the pumpkin nicely, but you can sub that out with whatever liquor you have on hand, or even water for you non-drinkers out there. The alcohol works to create this super flaky and light crust, which is why I went that route. The crust will be blind baked(baked without the filling) first, just because I am adding a raw, wet filling to it, and if the pastry is uncooked before the filling is added, you will end up with undercooked, rubbery pie, or as the Masterchef UK judges would call it, a “soggy bottom”. And nobody wants a soggy bottom. If you are worried about twice-baking the pie crust, you can also use tin foil on the crust itself, which helps to keep the dough from over-browning! I also froze the fully baked and filled pie solid, just so that I could use a microwave to level off any uneven bits of the crust. You don’t technically have to do this, as piping the border of creme fraiche covers that as well, but I just prefer to pipe the creme fraiche whip on an even surface!
Overall, this is a pie that celebrates fall and comfort food. Butter mochi is one of those foods you eat when you want to drown out your bad feelings and vibes, while almost every American has a memory of pumpkin pie, be it pleasant or not. But I can assure you in the case of my recipe, that it will be a rather pleasant eating experience. You will have this cinnamon-dusted, gooey pie that just tastes like autumn has arrived! Because of the fun texture in the filling, being almost fudge-y from the mochiko, even the pumpkin pie-nonbelievers will like it too!
Makes 1 8-inch pie(enough for 8-10 servings):
For the spiced rum crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup spiced rum, kept cold(can sub with cold water too)
In a food processor, blend flour, butter, sugar, and salt into a fine crumb. Mix into that the cold rum, gently pulsing the dough until it just comes together. Refrigerate the dough, covered in cling wrap, for 20 minutes – if chilling the dough for any longer, allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before attempting to roll it out!
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Line an 8-inch tart pan with a thin layer of butter, and a light dusting of flour. Place the pie crust into the pan, pressing it against the grooves, and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Weigh with parchment and either dried rice, dried beans, or baking weights. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then remove the baking weights and parchment, and bake for another 10 minutes.
For the filling:
1 cup mochiko
1 can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, browned
3 tbsp canola oil
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp creme fraiche*
In a bowl, mix everything together, sans the creme fraiche. Pour the mixture into the baked pie shell, and spread in an even layer. Pipe the creme fraiche onto the filling in whatever patten you desire – I went with curved lines to loosely mimic the appearance of a pumpkin. Bake the filled shell at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, cover the edges of the crust with tin foil should it get too dark. Once baked, throw the pie into the freezer and allow it to freeze for at least 2 hours. If any of the edges got too dark or frayed, use a microplane to file down any unevenness.
For the creme fraiche whip:
7oz creme fraiche
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a bowl, mix together everything using a rubber spatula. Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip. Keep cold until time to assemble.
Toasted and salted pepitas
Pipe a border around the pie using the creme fraiche whip. Garnish the top with pepitas first, then dust the sides with both confectioner’s sugar and ground cinnamon to finish.