In fact, I rarely drink egg nog. My dad makes a killer version laced with brandy. The holiday book club meeting featured a silver tureen of the rich creamy treat, with freshly grated nutmeg perfuming the kitchen. A master chef/mixologist friend hand-crafts each mugful to order, then reverently delivers the resulting brew to each guest with a flourish. The aroma of vanilla mixed with the holiday spices instantly conjures up the warm and cosy feelings of the season every time.
And yet my immediate response to the first sip is always the same:
"Ugh. I'm drinking alcoholic melted ice cream. Where's my vodka tonic?"
That's why I'm such a fan of cooking with the stuff. Egg Nog French Toast. Egg Nog Pound Cake. And my new favorite*, Egg Nog Pumpkin Pie.
Egg Nog Pumpkin Pie
This was a revelation. The custard texture is unusually light, practically melting in your mouth, and the depth of flavor that comes from the spices, the egg nog, and the pumpkin is spectacular.
1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust (I bought mine, but you can make your own: recipe follows)
1 15oz can pumpkin puree (2 cups)
1-1/2 c eggnog
1/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix all ingredients using a wire whisk. Pour into crust. Cover edges with a crust protector or tin foil to prevent edges from burning.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 min. Turn heat down to 350 degrees and continue baking for 45-55 min until a knife comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Refrigerate. Take out 1 hour before serving to warm pie to room temperature. Slice and garnish with fresh whipped cream, dusted with a bit of cinnamon sugar.
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Perfect Pie Crust
Makes two 10 inch pie crusts - you only need one for the pie, but you'll definitely find a use for the other one. Or, cut the recipe in half.
A few secrets for the perfect crust are to use very cold butter, shortening, and water and touching the dough as little as possible with your rolling pin and your hands. If you don’t have the time to make the crust from scratch then a store bought crust works nicely under pressure.
3 c. flour
1 Tbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. shortening – cold
1 1/2 stick (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter – very cold and cut into chunks
6-8 Tbs. (about 1/2 cup) ice water
Mix the first 3 ingredients in a food processor bowl by pulsing a few times with a steel blade. Add the shortening and butter and pulse 10-12 times until well blended so the fat will look like pea sized pieces, and the rest looks like coarse crumbs. While the machine is running, add 5 Tbs. of ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Add remaining 2-3 Tbs. of ice water, 1 Tbs. at a time, until dough holds together and begins to form a ball.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead just until it comes together completely. Divide in half and form two flat discs. You can wrap these up and freeze individually at this point, or store in the fridge for several days. Roll dough out between sheets of waxed paper to 12” round and 1/8” thick. Peel off one side of the waxed paper, fold the dough in half, and transfer to pie plate. Transfer plate back to the fridge for 30 minutes or up to several hours before filling and using in your favorite recipe. If you are using the other portion for a top crust, roll that one out, too, and keep refrigerated in the waxed paper until ready to use.
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* Full credit to my friend Michelle, who was raving about this pie at our Open House, and kindly sent the recipe by e-mail just in time for our Christmas dinner.