Pie crust dough for a 9-inch single-crust pie (homemade preferred)
¼ cup heavy cream (to glaze the crimped pie edges)
1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin purée
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
For the pie shell: On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll out half the disk of dough with a rolling pin until it forms a 10-inch circle. Wrap the remaining half of the dough tightly in plastic wrap and reserve it in the refrigerator for future use for up to 5 days. Fold the circle in half, place it in a 9-inch pie plate so that the edges of the circle drop over the rim, and unfold the dough to completely cover the pie plate. Using your thumb and index finger, crimp the edges of the pie shell. Brush the edges of the pie shell with heavy cream to create a perfect, golden brown finish. Set the pie shell to the side while you make the filling.
For the pumpkin filling: Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, combine the pumpkin purée and eggs. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Mix the ingredients together, scraping the bowl several times. Add the heavy cream and mix once again, until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the unbaked pie shell.
Place the pie plate on the lined baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is firm in the middle but still soft to the touch. Transfer the pie plate to a wire cooling rack and allow the pie to cool for at least 2 hours.
For the meringue: Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat the egg whites until they become foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and continue mixing until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, add the vanilla and beat for 30 more seconds. The meringue should be light and fluffy. If the meringue forms little peaks but does not fall, you have achieved the desired consistency.
When the pie has finished cooling, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the meringue on top of the pumpkin pie, forming a mound of meringue in the middle of the pie. Use a spatula to pat and lift the meringue across the top of the pie, forming peaks. Take care to spread the meringue all the way out to the edges of the crust.
To brown the meringue, place the pie on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 4-6 minutes, or until the desired brownness has been achieved. If you have a kitchen torch, you can also use this method as an alternative, but be careful to spread the flame evenly across the entire surface to achieve a uniform look.
Serves six to eight.
Cook's note: Pumpkin Meringue Pie is best served the same day and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If you aren't a huge fan of meringue, you can make this pumpkin pie without the meringue and still have an amazing, more traditional pumpkin pie.
"Perfect Pies and More" by Michele Stuart (2013 Random House)