Butternut Squash Pie with Candied Squash Topping

No messing around here: this is the New York Times interpretation of the classic Thanksgiving dessert.  As they say, ” no vegetal tones or stodgy finish mar the radiance of this pie, which stops just short of a custard and glows with the burnish of spice.” 

Cut 1 Butternut in half lengthwise. Cut off a piece big enough to make 3/4 C. of peeled and diced cubes and reserve it for later. Place the two halves face down on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees until it is soft and the edges are bubbly and brown.  Remove and allow to cool.  (You  can cross one thing off your list by baking the squash up to 5 days before making the pie, but once it’s cooked it will have to be refrigerated.) Remove the seeds and pulp and the skin.

Crust:  Combine 1 1/4 C. flour with 1/2 t. salt. in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add 2 T. solid vegetable shortening and 5 T. cold butter, cut into chunks.  Pulse 5-6 times.

Beat 1 egg with 3 T. ice water.  Add to the processor and pulse into the dough until it looks uniformly moist, about 10 sec.  Turn the dough onto a work surface and press into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough into a 15″ circle and then fit into a 9″ pie pan.  Trim the edges, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.  Preheat the oven to 425, then cover the crust with foil and weigh down with dry beans or pie weights.  Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 3-5 minutes to brown. Reduce the oven heat to 300.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling:  Combine 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract, 1/2 C. brown sugar, 1/4 C. granulated sugar, 1/4 t. salt, 1 1/2 t. ground ginger and cinnamon, 1/2 t. nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne pepper in the food processor.  Process until smooth, then add 1 1/2 C. roasted squash and process until smooth.  With the machine running, pour in 1 1/4 C. heavy cream and process to combine.

Pour the filling into the crust, then bake at 300 for 20 minutes, then raise the heat to 325 and bake another 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but still jiggly in the center.  Custard will continue cooking as the pie cools.

Remove the pie from the oven and tent it with foil.

For the Candied Topping:  Peel and finely dice butternut to make 3/4 C.  Combine with 1 1/2 T. each mandarin orange zest and juice, 3 T. sugar, and 1/2 t. salt in a bowl.  Toss and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Simmer in a small saucepan for 10 minutes.  Add 2 T. diced candied ginger.  Serve alongside the pie and spoon atop it.

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