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is it still pie without the crust?

Recipe: crustless pumpkin pie

Manisha had asked what I do with leftover turkey. I personally prefer the leftover turkey to the centerpiece turkey. This afternoon I had a turkey reuben sandwich (it’s just a reuben with turkey instead of corned beef) and Jeremy had an open-face hot turkey sandwich bathed in gravy. I’m debating what to do with the carcass – green chile stew?

I’m glad I got all of the cooking out of the way because today I went to have my root canal finished up at the dentist’s and OMFG!!!!! It hurt like a beyotch. I’m talking about the worst pain I have experienced in my life (and I have a fairly high threshold for pain). I’ve had a root canal before and I didn’t feel a thing, but today… They warned that if it hurt during the root canal, I would experience a lot of pain afterward when the numbing wore off. But my tooth doesn’t hurt at all now. They suggested chewing on soft foods.

freshly ground spices and brown sugar

A favorite soft food of mine is pumpkin pie. As I said in the previous post, I couldn’t care less about the crust when it comes to pumpkin pie (as opposed to pecan pie which desperately needs something to offset all of that sweetness). When I cook a big meal, I am very ambitious at the start. Something usually hits the cutting room floor by mid-day because I’m either too harried or too tired to get to all of it. This time, I tried to save future-me the trouble of nixing anything by keeping dessert very simple: crustless pumpkin pie. And I used canned pumpkin to further reduce my cussing frequency.

mixing cream into the pumpkin and eggs

Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe is always a standard and yet it leaves me wanting for something with a little more punch to it. I like the spices and settled on the Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Pie recipe featured on the cover of this year’s Thanksgiving Fine Cooking issue (Oct/Nov 2008). Not making the crust did save me some time, which I then frittered away by hand-grating all of the damn spices.

combining the spiced sugar with the pumpkin mixture

No matter the mess it made, the wonderful aroma was worth it as I mixed the ingredients together. This recipe calls for heavy cream, which is totally bonus in my book. I wonder if I should have named this here blog Use Real Cream instead? So if you actually grate fresh spices properly and don’t have to photograph the process, then I think slapping this recipe together takes less than 5 minutes.

divvied up in ramekins

I baked the pumpkin filling in ramekins because my intention was to serve them in the ramekins with a dollop of whipped cream. I wasn’t sure how well it would hold its shape if I baked it in a pie plate. When I pulled them out of the oven, I realized I had forgotten about something:


But that was okay. After letting them cool, I made sure to loosen the sides and place plastic wrap over the top. Then I turned the ramekin upside down and thwacked it down on a thick towel on the counter. After unwrapping the plastic from the ramekin, I inverted the pumpkin thingy onto a serving plate. Not too shabby and it held its shape relatively well. For garnish, I added a blob of whipped cream and sprinkled chopped crystallized ginger on top. Jeremy and I quite like this new version of pumpkin pie.

most excellent

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
[print recipe]
adapted from Fine Cooking October/November 2008

15 oz. pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp brandy
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly ground cloves

1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger (freshly grated is good)
1 tsp brandy

Heat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, cream, and brandy. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, ginger, cinnamon, slat, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves. Whisk the sugar mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Divide the filling among 6 ramekins (3-inch diameter is what I used). Bake until center is slightly jiggly and wet, about 1 hour (I baked for 70 minutes, but I’m at high elevation). Let the pie(s) cool completely on a wire rack and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks (2 minutes). Add the sugar, ginger, and brandy and continue to whip until medium-firm peaks, about 30 seconds more. Serve with pumpkin pie.

Makes 6 3-inch ramekins.

35 nibbles at “is it still pie without the crust?”

  1. Caitlin says:

    So classy looking! I love pie crust, but I agree that pumpkin pie doesn’t *need* the crust. I’ve heard root canals are painful, so I hope you don’t get any random lingering pain. No fun, although not too terrible if this is your soft food to eat while it hurts :)

  2. Susy says:

    I’ve been wanting a recipe with cream instead of evaporated milk. I get raw milk from a local dairy and I skim the cream off, every time I do it I think about what I can do with it – this week it will be crustless pumpin pies with cream. I always double the spice (except cloves) in the Libby’s recipe, adds extra zing to it!

    I’m all for crustless as well, I’ve been making them that way for years. Although I usually just make the double pie recipe in a 9×13 pan and we scoop in into a bowl, then top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (not as pretty as yours, but super easy!).

  3. Rosa says:

    Those little crustless pies look marvelous! I always make that when I have some Pumpkin Pie filling left…



  4. Mrs Ergül says:

    Cool! That’s the way to go! Do without the crust if you don’t need it. even better if it saves you from some stress!

  5. Manggy says:

    Hee– from dentist to crustless pumpkin pie. Nice segue. :P I don’t think you would be too surprised to learn that I’ve never had pumpkin pie before! But it does have that custard-y quality that you know can stand very well on its own. Do you think it shrank in the ramekin because of its smooth sides or does it also shrink when it’s inside a pie crust? (That would be weird!) It looks lovely and I’m excited at the thought of its fresh spiciness :) Speaking of which, I pulverize whole cinnamon sticks and such on a small food processor– don’t have a rasp. Happy thanksgiving Jen! :)

  6. Manisha says:

    I like the idea of a reuben with turkey leftovers! If my neighbor offers me any, I will do just that with it!

    I have a pumpkin sitting on my doorstep and I keep thinking that I should punish myself and purée that to make pumpkin pie. I like the idea of crustless!

    Root canals are scary. Take care!

  7. Maja says:

    Mmmm, lovely idea … now i’ll know what to do with the rest of the pumpkin puree next time i buy a pumpkin! :) Sorry to hear about your tooth pain, that sucks!

  8. Culinarywannabe says:

    Pumpkin pie crust always seems to get a bit soggy to me, and I always wondered if you could just do without it. Thanks for the solution! Great site you have here!

  9. Lezel Safi says:

    Genius, once again….and a little FYI I happen to be married to the best damn dentist around…he actually has patients that move out of OK or live all over OK and travel back specifically to see him! He even had a chick from Croatia about 4 weeks ago, weird if you ask me! But I am his best form of PR and that’s why he’s never had to advertise since graduating 6 years ago…I tell everyone that he’s the best and not because he’s my husband but it’s the damn truth …..and he’s good to look at too and sometimes even sings while he works (I personally think he should have to pay the patient’s for this bonus!) or you can just watch whatever is to your liking on the flat screen on the ceiling! Soooooo, I’m just sayin’

  10. diana banana says:

    ooo, you add black pepper, that’s an interesting one! usually i double the nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon in the recipes because i LOVE the flavors (one time i mistakenly doubled the cloves as well…BAD idea!). Pumpkin Goo (which is my name for what you made) holds its shape well coming out of a pie dish, but I love the single serving look of it out of your ramekins.

    ah, root canals…my dentist called me a baby when i was whimpering through mine. make sure you finish all of your antibiotics!

  11. Bridget says:

    I’m super excited about turkey leftovers.

    I am not a big fan of Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe. I feel like it isn’t custardy enough.

  12. Sherry says:

    Huh, and here I am just itching to bake a pie. Although I’ll be making crust to go with it — I do love a nice flaky crust.

  13. Christina says:

    Making the spices that way probably gave it a better taste, so it was worth the extra time. If I ever did want to go crustless, I would have to buy ramekins first. And run it past everyone else, aka roadblock. =D

  14. Asianmommy says:

    This looks beautiful!

  15. sarah says:

    I love this idea! I have pastry (bleurgh!) but I’ve never thought of just doing the mix like that! Pumpkin in a tin is hard to get here though :(

  16. Mollie says:

    Those look beautiful! I’ve never really been into pumpkin pie… but I’d try yours for sure. :) I like leftover turkey best too – I cook one at home even tho we don’t host just to have leftovers. And I LOVE turkey rubens. I also do them with fresh cole slaw and turkey instead of kraut – which I think some people call a Rachel, but I think that’s dumb.
    I’m very interested in what you do with your carcass – I tried to make soup once and it turned out greasy despite several chillings and defattings (is that a word?). So bring on the carcass! :)

  17. Aran says:

    it’s like i can totally smell the spices from that first photo. jen, you are killing me! your photos are so crisp, so evoking… getting better every day. have a wonderful thanksgiving!

  18. Miliani says:

    Made this tonight – had to taste one is smelled so fabulous!! I hate making piecrusts and I don’t like pre-made so this was an excellent alternative. I’m excited to serve the remaining to my guests tomorrow. This is an incredibly tasty recipe :-)

    As for root canals, I’ve had two and both were totally painless as were the rest of my family’s from the same dentist. I didn’t even need aspirin afterwards. My dentist is known as a “gentle treatments dentist” and its the truth. It’s all in how your dentist is trained. I hope your pain subsides quickly!!!

    Thanks for the great recipes and website!
    Happy Thanksgiving ~

  19. zoe / puku says:

    wow these look so gorgeous! and, as Caitlin said, really classy! and I feel you on the root canal, I had one done a couple of months ago (only my 3rd filling of any kind, and a bit of a shock) good thing you have lots of soft food leftovers, right?

  20. Michelle says:

    I’ve got eight little crustless wonders chillin’ in the fridge… yours look wonderful!

  21. Dusty says:

    I’ve got 4 in larger ramekins cooling on the countertop…smells divine. Can’t wait to make the whipped cream with brandy. Thank you! Good luck with the root canal.

  22. Nate says:

    Make jook with the carcass.

    Nice looking pumpkin whatever!

  23. White On Rice Couple says:

    Hey, this is my kind of pie….all filling! Pumpkin filling is the one and only filling that I can eat lots of, because it’s normally not too sweet when we make it. I love crust, only if it’s not too much because the crust can be rather rich for me.

    These are so beautiful!! And love this version too!

  24. jenyu says:

    Caitlin – tooth is doing well, but this pie is definitely easy on it :)

    Susy – nice – that sounds awesome!

    Rosa – mmm, what a great idea.

    Mrs. E – hee hee :)

    Mark – actually, now that you mention it, I should have expected that b/c all of my pumpkin pies do the shrink too. Does pulverizing cinnamon in a food processor work? I’ve never tried it. I’m sure it does though… Good tip! Happy Thanksgiving, hon!

    Manisha – thanks, sweetie.

    Maja – tooth is much better now, thank you :)

    Culinarywannabe – thanks!

    Lezel – I wish I had your hubby for my dentist because jury is still out on my new one :(

    Diana Banana – I finished my antibiotics yesterday, but if my dentist called me a wimp, I’d rip her breasts off and see how she felt about that.

    Bridget – this recipe is definitely custardy.

    Sherry – I love crust too, but I like mine with fruit pies ;)

    Christina – it’s true. The spices were so much more fresh and vibrant!

    Asianmommy – thank you.

    Sarah – I used canned pumpkin b/c I’m lazy – I think it would have been awesome with fresh!

    Mollie – I only do Rachels with pulled bbq pork :) And then it’s not a rachel but a damn freaking good sandwich – tee hee. I’m thinking of green chile stew for the carcass? Stay tuned.

    Aran – happy thanksgiving to you too, sweetie :)

    Miliani – great!! I’m happy you like it too! The pain is mostly gone, so thank you!

    Zoe – absolutely :)

    Michelle – woohoo!

    Dusty – awesome that so many are trying this recipe. I hope you love it!

    Nate – I personally like shi-fan with chicken and not so much the turkey ;)

    WoRC – I expected some sort of crazy exotic pumpkin with tropical something or other from you!! :) xxoo

  25. Manggy says:

    Hey Jen! It does work– I get an okay mix of cinnamon dust and slightly bigger particles. I could finish the job on a mortar and pestle, but I don’t mind them– as long as they’re not bothersome enough to actually be chewed/get stuck in teeth, it’s okay :) (plus, I wouldn’t want you to bother with a M&P with your wrist issues.)

  26. Kevin says:

    I really like those mini individual sized pumpkin pies!

  27. Elina says:

    I love the single serving idea! Would you do anything different next time since you encountered the “shrinkage problem” (hehe, I’m still laughing at that one :) )?

  28. Laura says:

    I have been out of the blogging world for a few weeks due to my computer dying and I am SO SAD I missed this recipe. I too am not into pumpkin pie crust–despite loving pumpkin pie–and when I had to do a last minute dessert I did a lemon bundt cake (long story–it was very good but clearly not traditional). If I had seen this recipe I would have tried this. Guess I’ll make it now, after the holiday….

  29. jenyu says:

    Mark – oh, but my right wrist is good, so maybe I should try a mortar and pestle?

    Kevin – thanks!

    Elina – perhaps a water bath? I’m not sure. As long as I unmold it, then the shrinkage isn’t a problem.

    Laura – oh, well at least you get to enjoy it :)

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  31. Mary says:

    I will be trying this crustless recipe today. I have always enjoyed making turkey soup from the carcass.

  32. Annabelle says:

    Just made this recipe tonight. It’s so awesome, especially without the crust since that have a tendency to get super soggy. I actually used 4 ramekins with 4 in diameters. However, I noticed that the pies shrank quite a lot after I took them out of the oven, like they actually sunk below in the center. Is this normal? This is my first time baking a pie, so I hope I haven’t messed it up :(

    Anyways, I’m excited to serve these tomorrow for thanksgiving, thanks for sharing your awesome recipe!

  33. jenyu says:

    Annabelle – The pies do shrink, even in a pie crust sometimes the filling pulls away from the crust. As for sinking in the middle, mine doesn’t tend to do that – perhaps this happens if they’re thin (4-in diameter seems large to me)?

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  35. Suzie G says:

    I love pumpkin pie. I also usually find the crust “too much” but i have ramekins so this will be attempted as i have had success before with souffles in ramekins (& bigger dishes). I did want to share tho that when i was younger my mum had a recipe that she used anytime she made baked custard tarts or anything else with a lot of moisture such as this recipe, that was called “Cake Pastry”. It was lighter than most pastries and could be made sweeter or plainer by adjusting the sugar in the pastry mix. It was formed into the dish then half baked blind before the filling was added. There was very rarely shrinkage as the pastry continued to rise and expand a little and created this marvellous zone where the pastry and the filling married. I have just recently purchased some Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix from a new providore range that a friend is selling so i will be trying that before i grind my own.

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