Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream

Cover recipe from Fine Cooking, November 2008
Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream
FinePumpkin3November magazine covers typically feature either roast turkey or pumpkin pie.  Already having roasted a turkey from Living, I was stuck with pumpkin pie.  I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie at all.  For me, it’s always a disappointing end to a nice holiday dinner.  A lover of other pumpkin things, there’s something about the texture and flavor of pumpkin pie that just doesn’t appeal to me all that much.  Every year I try a new version… hoping to find a new one that will be a winning recipe. 

Fine Cooking is one of my favorite cooking magazines.  They have great contributors, and the recipes reflect the style and ingredients of the way I prefer to cook.  This pumpkin pie recipe from last year’s November issue looked like it was worth a try.  It was described as a spiced-up, rich and silky pie, and that caught my attention at once.  The intro to this recipe recommends taking the time to freshly grind the spices for the pie… that they’d add a depth and vibrancy you just don’t get with the pre-ground variety.    I did this, and I agree- lots of flavor and fresh scents.  Freshly ground black pepper and brandy are also included in the pie.  You don’t taste either one, but I’m quite sure they lend importance to the end result.  The texture is lighter and creamier than the typical pumpkin pie.  The whipped cream is genius… ginger-flavored with a touch of brandy.  I don’t think I’ll ever make plain whipped cream again.  I’ve finally found my Pumpkin Pie recipe… one that I can actually look forward to eating after turkey dinner.  I would not hesitate for a moment to recommend this to my readers.

FinePumpkin2Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream
Source:  Fine Cooking, November 2008

For the crust
1/2 tsp. salt
 1-1/2 cups  (6-3/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
10 Tbsp.  (5 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the filling
15-oz. can pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. brandy
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon stick (or 1-1/2 tsp. pre-ground cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch freshly ground cloves (or 1/8 tsp. pre-ground cloves)
For the cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. brandy

Make the crust:  In a small bowl, stir the salt into 1/3 cup very cold water until dissolved. Put the flour in a food processor and scatter the butter on top. Pulse until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is in pieces the size of peas, about 8 pulses. Add the salt water and pulse until the dough begins to come together in large clumps, about 7’ll still see some butter pieces. Shape the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle 16 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch ceramic, metal, or glass pie plate, easing the dough into the bottom and sides and then gently pressing into place. For a traditional crimped edge, trim the overhanging dough to 1/2 inch from the edge of the plate. Fold the overhang under and crimp decoratively. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Blind-bake the crust :  Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line the chilled pie shell with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until the sides have just set and look dry, 16 to 20 minutes (lift the parchment to check). Remove the weights and parchment and bake until the edges are light golden and the bottom is pale and completely dry, about 5 minutes. If the dough starts to bubble while baking, gently push the bubbles down with the back of a spoon. Let the crust cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
Make the filling and bake the pie:  Heat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, cream, and brandy. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves. Whisk the sugar mixture into the pumpkin mixture.Pour the filling into the cooled piecrust. Bake until the pie is set around the outside but still slightly wet and jiggly in the center, about 1 hour. The filling will continue to set as it cools. Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before serving.
Make the cream just before serving:  Whip the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until it forms very soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, ginger, and brandy and continue whipping until it forms medium-firm peaks, about 30 seconds longer. Dollop in the center of the pie, leaving a band of filling visible around the edge of the pie, or dollop on individual servings.

Make Ahead Tips:  You can make and freeze the crust up to 2 weeks ahead.  The pie may be filled and baked up to 2 days ahead.

Serves 8 to 10

Notes from Culinary Covers: 
*In the picture on the cover of the magazine, the crust of the pie has been sprinkled with sugar crystals.  I missed that, unfortunately, but it does add some sparkly pizzazz that I would include next time.
*It’s important to note that I am severely crust-challenged.  I never, ever have great luck with making any sort of crust.  This crust was basic, and it was simple as could be- easy to handle.  I didn’t have to re-roll it.  I had no problems at all, and it turned out to be flaky and delicious too.
*For my crust, I crimped the sides but then wanted to do something a little more decorative.  I rolled out the scraps and punched out circles with a cannoli tube, overlapping them around the rim of the crust.
*I freshly ground the cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper, but used pre-ground for ginger and cloves.
*The lighter and creamier texture made this pie quite different than a classic pumpkin pie.
*The whipped cream was so amazing.  Leave the brandy out if you’d like, but it’s not overwhelming and I loved the subtle flavor.

Did this recipe deserve the cover?  Most definitely!  In my honest opinion, it’s the perfect pumpkin pie, and that’s exactly what the recipe cover is trying to convey.

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

18 Responses to “Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream”

  1. 1

    VeggieGirl — November 19, 2009 @ 6:20 am

    I love Fine Cooking too!! Definitely “cover worthy” :)

  2. 2

    Jessica @ How Sweet It Is — November 19, 2009 @ 8:12 am

    I have always loved my grandmother’s pumpkin pie the best, but this ‘sugar and spice’ title has got me hooked. I may try this exact recipe next week.

  3. 3

    Maria — November 19, 2009 @ 8:14 am

    Glad you enjoyed it. Perfect dessert for next week!

  4. 4

    lisaiscooking — November 19, 2009 @ 8:15 am

    The freshly ground spices sound great, and the ginger-brandy whipped cream is genius! Sounds like a lovely pie.

  5. 5

    HoneyB — November 19, 2009 @ 8:18 am

    It looks gorgeous. My family LOVES pumpkin pie but I am always looking for different variations. The black pepper and brandy really make this sound interesting! I will have to give this a definite try!

  6. 6

    kat — November 19, 2009 @ 8:19 am

    I love a good pumpkin pie & this sounds like a great one!

  7. 7

    megan — November 19, 2009 @ 8:27 am

    I love pumpkin pie and I’ll have to try this version.

  8. 8

    noble pig — November 19, 2009 @ 8:42 am

    I love it, I’m assuming you did not grind the ginger to a pulp but used pre ground.

  9. 9

    Julie — November 19, 2009 @ 8:43 am

    I think you must be a really pious person, your pie looks fab, and your crust could not be flakier!

  10. 10

    Scorpio Woman — November 19, 2009 @ 9:04 am

    The pie looks so good. Great idea to use a little bit of brandy in the whipped cream. Great photo. And I like how you did the crust. I’m not good at that.

  11. 11

    Jill O'Connor — November 19, 2009 @ 10:22 am

    Looks delicious! And I love the idea of your site–cooking the magazine cover recipes. Brilliant.

  12. 12

    Phoo-D — November 19, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    This sounds really good! I too am usually not a big fan of pumpkin pie, but I have a cute little sugar pumpkin that I’ve been saving to make into a pie. This would be a great way to use it!

  13. 13

    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — November 19, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

    I don’t really mind pumpkin pie, but it’s not one of my favorite. The whipped cream does sound amazing, though… and I think your picture looks better than the cover. Just sayin’.

  14. 14

    Cynthia — November 20, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

    I just found you on Tastespotting. What a great blog concept! I get tons of magazines and sometimes make the cover recipes, but not all the time. Will be checking in from time to time. thanks for sharing!

  15. 15

    Gale Reeves — November 20, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

    I really enjoy your review of magazine recipes. And pumpkin pie is one of my all time favorites. Thanks for the time you commit to write this blog.

  16. 16

    Stephanie — November 22, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

    You might have convinced me to try this recipe. If you aren’t a pumpkin pie fan and you liked this, then maybe there is hope for me after all :)

  17. 17

    abby dodge — December 29, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

    With thanks to your posting and review, I made this pie for Christmas eve dinner.. Delicious! For more staying power with the whipped cream, I subbed mascarpone for half of the heavy cream. Thanks for a terrific post and a fab site!
    ps..don’t tell my pals at FC that this was my first go-around with this recipe ;)

  18. 18

    Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — November 20, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

    Considering the pies I seem to gravitate to, I know I would love this. Add some liquor and I think it just ups the flavor profile substantially. I’ve tried bourbon but not brandy in pumpkin pies but I’m game for something new!

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