Pumpkin Pie with Mascarpone

pumpkin-mascarpone pie

Confession: I’ve always liked the idea of pumpkin pie better than pumpkin pie itself. A wedge of deep-orange pie, neatly sliced and dolloped with fresh whipped cream to cap off Thanksgiving dinner–what could be better? Nothing, except a cold piece the next morning, washed down with hot coffee. I so want to love it.

In reality, pumpkin pie can have some unappealing attributes (well, who doesn’t?). It often tastes of canned pumpkin, with an aggressive overlay of spices. It’s grainy in texture, sometimes even gritty from all those spices. It’s…wet. It has a soggy crust. In fact, I rarely make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.I usually rely on Rose Levy Berambaum’s recipe for pumpkin cheesecake. It was published in Fine Cooking back in 1999 and I’ve been making it more or less every year since.

mascarpone

The other day, after making Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s homemade mascarpone, it occurred to me that this might be the answer to my issues with pumpkin pie. I remembered that mascarpone had quite nicely resolved similar longstanding issues I had with ricotta crostata. So I added mascarpone to the pumpkin filling.

kabocha cropped

Also, I didn’t actually use pumpkin, canned or otherwise. I used roasted red kuri squash, a squat, bright orange variety with dense, smooth, sweet orange flesh. It’s not fibrous and it makes a rich pumpkin pie filling. (Buttercup and kabocha, similar varieties except with a hard green rind, are equally good.) And I toned down the spices. I like and want to taste the flavor of the pumpkin…or squash.

pie crust

Finally, I used my go-to recipe for all-butter pie crust, which started many years ago as a Betty Crocker recipe and which I’ve gradually tweaked to my liking over the decades.

pumpkin pie filling

So there you have it, perfect pumpkin pie. Or nearly perfect. After I posted a picture of it on Instagram, someone commented that they spike their pumpkin pie filling with bourbon. Head slap.

We’re getting there.

What’s YOUR perfect pumpkin pie? Tell us about it or share a link to your recipe.

Makes one 9-inch pie

Pumpkin Pie with Mascarpone

Technically, this is a winter squash pie. I almost always use roasted winter squash in place of canned (or fresh) pumpkin puree, which tends to be watery and has less flavor than squash. My favorite squashes for baking are red kuri, kabocha and buttercup. I get them at the Twin Springs Fruit Farm stall at my local farmers' market. They all have orange flesh that is dense, sweet and smooth. To roast, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub a little vegetable oil on the cut side and place the halves, cut-side-down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees F. for 45 to 60 minutes, until the squash is completely tender. I used Homemade Mascarpone in this recipe, but store-bought is also fine.

Ingredients

  • 1 (9-inch) pie crust, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed roasted red kuri, kabocha or buttercup squash, cooled
  • 1 packed cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated (or ground) nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone, homemade or store-bought
  • Freshly whipped cream for serving

Instructions

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

With an electric mixer, beat together the squash puree and light brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the lemon juice, vanilla extract, spices and salt. Add the mascarpone and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture into the chilled pie crust.

Bake the pie until the filling is puffed up slightly around the rim and set in the middle, about 1 hour. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Just before serving, dollop a mound of whipped cream into the center of the pie.

Makes One 9-inch or 10-inch pie shell

All-Butter Pie Crust

I have always made an all-butter pastry for my pies. I've tried versions with vegetable shortening and with lard, but to me nothing beats the fresh flavor and crispy, flaky texture of a butter crust. I long ago stopped mixing this dough by hand, as it comes together easily in a food processor. Just be sure to pulse rather than to process continuously, and use cold butter (I keep mine in the freezer and take it out shortly before making the dough).

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup, 8 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Instructions

Measure the flour and salt into the work bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse to cut the butter into the flour. Take care not to over-process. You want visible bits and pieces of butter in the mixture. While pulsing, drizzle in the water and process just until the dough begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a disk. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before rolling out.

To shape the crust, remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll it into a 12-inch disk and gently press it into a 9-inch pie plate (I prefer glass), leaving an overhang. Trim the overhang to about 1 inch from the rim. Fold the overhang under so that it is even with the rim. Crimp or flute with your fingers. Chill until ready to fill.

This recipe is easily doubled for a two-crust pie.

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22 Responses to Pumpkin Pie with Mascarpone

  1. Helen Free November 10, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Years ago, Kahlua was a popular add-in. Love that there’s not a can of anything in it.

  2. Rosa Jeanne Mayland November 10, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Divine and beautiful! That is one one of my favorite fall desserts. I love the fact that you used mascarpone for the filling.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. Gillian November 10, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    This is almost the recipe I have used for ages only I use heavy cream where you have marscapone. This will be the first year in decades that I am not hosting an enormous Thanksgiving feast as my only boy will be in Boston and not Rome (sniff) I am planning on making pumpkin pie though and your recipe sounds like the perfect change.

    • Domenica Marchetti November 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      Gillian, I will be in your shoes all too soon. My son is a senior, heading off to college next fall. I hope he’ll come home for Thanksgiving, but who knows? Where oh where do the years go? I hope we get to meet in Rome next time I am there (probably in spring). Cheers and thanks for stopping by.

  4. Ciao Chow Linda November 10, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Ok, I think THIS will be my new pumpkin pie. The bourbon may find its way in there too.

  5. Adri Barr Crocetti November 10, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    What an absolutely beautiful pie, and your crust is a work of art. Brava!. Thank you for the introduction to kuri squash. I will have to check out the markets here in LA and try some. The mascarpone really is good here. You are so right. It lends a silky but light sort of creaminess unmatched by other dairy products. I am intrigued by the addition of lemon juice. What prompted you to add it? Was it in a quest to to cut down on the sweet factor? Inquiring minds want to know…

    • Domenica Marchetti November 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Adri, I love the bright touch that just a bit of lemon juice adds. Adding zest would have been to aggressive in this case, so I went with juice. i hope you find red kuri out there. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t…don’t you all in CA have everything?!? 😉

  6. Laney November 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Pumpkin cheesecake has always been the main dessert of choice in our house for Thanksgiving because pumpkin pie always seemed a bit…boring. But this certainly isn’t at all! I might have to add this to the repetoire…

  7. Nancy Morizio November 10, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Well that settles it for Thanksgiving dessert…there will be bourbon for both pie and cook – Cheers!

    • Domenica Marchetti November 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      I just bought a liter of bourbon and a bottle of Cognac today ~ to make old-fashioned eggnog for Thanksgiving. To go with the pie, natch! A presto cara…

  8. NJ Spice November 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    This sounds delicious, and definitely more interesting than typical pumpkin pie, which I’m not a big fan of either. I roasted some red kuri squash recently, for the first time, and loved it. The last time I made Thanksgiving pie myself (many years ago I admit), I layered pecan pie filling over pumpkin pie filling, and that satisfied us both ways, since pumpkin on it’s own can be dull and all-pecan is terribly sweet.

  9. cristina November 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    Pumpkin and pumpkin custard have always been a fav. Love your take on it and your crust turned out beautiful…had me at mascarpone!

  10. bettyannquirino @Mango_Queen November 11, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    This pumpkin pie with mascarpone looks so good and your descriptions are so vivid, I just want to lick the screen. Anyway, you inspired me to try baking this for the holidays. Thanks for sharing, Domenica.

  11. elisa November 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    That looks soooo good! When I visited my brother in Italy last time my sister in law wanted to learn how to make a pumpkin pie. Well, she made one totally different. She made a pumpkin crostata! She mixed puree pumpkin with orange marmalade and added the dough strips on top just like on a crostata. Just like that! I made it at home and turned out delicious. I used the filling ingredients “a occhio” and the crust made with crushed pecans and butter. Yum!

    • Domenica Marchetti November 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      That sounds heavenly, Elisa. I do have a recipe for buttercup squash crostata in Glorious Vegetables, but it has ricotta in it ,and a little bit of Punch Abruzzo. To be honest, I like the texture of this one more and I might try it in crostata form next time I make it. But your SIL’s version with orange marmalade really does sound divine. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Tracy November 13, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    You’ve inspired me. This just might be the recipe that brings Roberto over to the “pumpkin” pie team. He has never been a fan. He’ll take apple any day. His brother, Gino, on the other hand, he’s a pumpkin pie lover. We often end up being the only ones who have a slice on Thanksgiving day.

    • Domenica Marchetti November 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

      Try it, Tracy. It won me over. I’ve always wanted to love pumpkin pie but it’s usually so disappointing. I’m making this for Thanksgiving and I’m already dreaming of leftovers with coffee the next morning.

  13. Frank Fariello November 16, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I’m glad you said it, Domenica! I’ve actually never liked pumpkin pie, but it may be that I never had one that was properly made. This one sounds very, very nice! I may have to give pumpkin pie another chance…

  14. Phyllis@Oracibo November 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    I have only one thing to say….Mom’s pumpkin pie…creamy and delicious…it does contain the trad. spices but she changed up her recipe a few times to suit! Made it for our Canadian Thanksgiving in October and got great reviews! http://oracibo.com/recipe/noras-pumpkin-pie-2/ No soggy crust here!

  15. Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    I love pumpkin pie and yours looks just divine – mascarpone is a brilliant addition!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 10 Favorite Reads on Italy this week: Nov 14, 2014 - BrowsingItaly - November 14, 2014

    […] Pumpkin pie with mascarpone by Domenica Cooks – I love pumpkin pie but the same sentiments are not shared by my in-laws. I have stopped making pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving lunch as I’m lucky if even a slice gets eaten. However, I might try this recipe this year and hopefully it will win them over. […]

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