Here are some fun variations to traditional pie recipes for Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
Everyone’s all in a fever right now about pumpkin—thinking about Thanksgiving desserts, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, the launch of 1 million new pumpkin-flavored things. Thanksgiving is, perhaps, the greatest American holiday. It’s our chance to do what we do best: Eat. All. Day.
If you think about it, the meal itself is a little weird. On no other day do we eat turkey (which always turns out dry and is therefore yucky), cranberry sauce, stuffing (the best part of the meal by far), and sweet potatoes that aren’t fries. It’s sort of an un-American celebration of America. (We should really be eating burgers, fries and milkshakes, but whatever.) It rocks because nothing happens except eating: no presents, no religious service, no action except using the TV remote and the oven.
So why do we end this day of hedonistic and delicious eating with a dessert made out of a vegetable? Pumpkin SUCKS in desserts (pumpkin sucks in everything, really, but that’s another story). You know what’s good in dessert? Chocolate. So herewith, let me present you with 7 important truths about pumpkin pie and why we’re letting ourselves down–letting America down, dammit–by allowing it to be the icing on the cake of the perfect Thanksgiving meal.
PUMPKIN IS A VEGETABLE.
No one ever thought, How awesome would an asparagus pie be? String bean pie? Not even a squash pie sounds good. The closest we get is a rhubarb pie, but you know what makes that tolerable? The inclusion of strawberries. Strawberries are there so you forget it has a vegetable in it.
PUMPKIN PIE FILLING ALWAYS RUINS THE CRUST.
The crust is good. But you have to scrape all the vegetable off to enjoy it.
IT REEKS OF A YANKEE CANDLE.
The spices in a pumpkin pie take me back to 80s cologne and the Yankee Candle factory. Yes, I know the candles came after the pie, but somehow the pumpkin spice thing in car air fresheners and candles and everything else has made me associate the pie with completely artificial, chemical scents. Now when that pumpkin pie comes out of the oven, I feel like I’m stuck in an windows-closed classroom with a guy drenched in Drakar Noir in 1986 or at my grandmother’s house in Florida with a Glade PlugIn air freshener in every room.
WE ALREADY HAVE SWEET POTATOES WITH MARSHMALLOWS.
The fact that this is called a “vegetable” at Thanksgiving is SUCH a win. I tend to scavenge out all the marshmallows, Phish-food style, but ultimately I do get a little vegetable as part of the mix—and then my parents are proud of me for eating a vegetable. (All veggie sides should have marshmallows on them.) But moreover, THIS is where pumpkin pie belongs—in the quiche/veggie side category, where you get credit for eating a vegetable when you’re really eating bacon (quiche) and marshmallows (sweet potatoes). PS: My mother-in-law, who is a huge health nut, makes a sick sweet potatoes-and-marshmallows side. And I love her for it because I know if she could live her best life, she’d eat marshmallows all day—and that, if nothing else, is what Thanksgiving gives us: the chance to break the rules.
WE ARE AT MAX PUMPKIN CAPACITY.
Pumpkin is everywhere. Because of loyalty to the Thanksgiving holidays—or maybe just because pumpkins are cute and round and picking them is fun—our obsessions has spawned an army of pumpkin-themed things. So not only do I have to contend with this completely ridiculous dessert at Thanksgiving, but now I can’t avoid it elsewhere. Maybe if there were more chocolate-and-pumpkin combo desserts, I’d be more on board with this flavor takeover.
THE ONLY GOOD THING ABOUT PUMPKIN PIE IS THE WHIPPED CREAM.
But, honestly, that’s the only good thing in almost every pie. I would eat my flip-flop if it had whipped cream on it.
PUMPKIN PIE WOULD BE BETTER IF IT WAS MADE OUT OF CHOCOLATE.
Chocolate is the perfect dessert ingredient—and might actually make pumpkin tolerable. I have been making this chocolate-pumpkin layer cake from Florence Fabricant for years, only to avoid choking down real pumpkin pie at our family Thanksgivings. Notice, though, that this solution is a cake, not a pie. The fact that there aren’t more chocolate pies is absurd. Even most pecan pies don’t have chocolate. (Thankfully, our friends over at Good Housekeeping know how to do it right.) And don’t get me started on key lime pie. Limes are the LEAST popular of the citrus fruits, only tolerable in a gin and tonic and on Thai food, so why is there a pie made of them? Whoever is in charge of pie recipes got it all wrong. All pies should be like this black-bottom chocolate cream pie. Even the crust is chocolate on this one. Finally, a dessert worthy of Thanksgiving.
As much as I want to grab on to these final days of summer with every fiber of my being (summer doesn’t technically end until the END of September, you guys), even I have found myself dreaming of sweater season. You should know that sweater season, to this food-obsessed mind, really means one thing: It’s time for pumpkin pie.
Recently, a controversial opinion about why pumpkin pie is THE WORST was presented on Delish—and I was heartbroken. How could someone feel this way about my all-time favorite dessert? So with all due respect to the magnanimous Kate Lewis (a.k.a. my BOSS) and her feelings on pumpkin pie, I must politely object, and present these seven reasons why pumpkin pie deserves its place in the pantheon of delicious sweets.
IT’S A SURE SIGN OF FALL.
Yes, the appearance of pumpkins (and the ubiquitous canned version) in stores is the official indicator that my favorite season has arrived. While it’s tough to say goodbye to summer (see above), fall is clearly the best of all the seasons—ideal temperature, clothes, and, obviously, food. Fall means apples, hearty chili, soft cider donuts, and roasted butternut squash. But pumpkin is the one that starts this time of year off on the right foot. Show it some respect.
IT’S A BREAK FROM FRUITY PIE.
I’ve never been a huge fruit person, but even I concede that fruit pies are a seasonal staple. We’ve been eating peach, blueberry, cherry, and lemon pies for the past four months. And at this point, everyone will start apple-picking and baking dozens of apple pies, cobblers, and crisps. Doesn’t pumpkin pie offer a nice respite from all that fruit?
IT CAN IMPROVE YOUR EYESIGHT.
So, let’s overlook the amount of sugar in the pie for just a second, and focus on the fact that a cup of mashed, cooked pumpkin contains 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. A slice a day may affect your waistline faster than it’ll give you bionic eyes, but hey, the occasional indulgence does have its upsides.
IT’S RIDICULOUSLY EASY TO MAKE.
For the cooking inept, pumpkin pie is the perfect vehicle to make them feel accomplished. The modern marvels of premade pie crust and canned pumpkin make things even easier: The most basic pumpkin pie recipes call for a grand total of FIVE ingredients. So for those of us who can barely make cookies without a disaster, a pumpkin pie is our chance to contribute to a family meal without making fools of ourselves.
IT’S INFINITELY CUSTOMIZABLE.
A big part of this argument against pumpkin pie is that it is a dessert with no chocolate. Yes, chocolate is an integral part of the dessert table, but I do not think pumpkin pie can be discounted on its lack of chocolate alone—just add some chocolate to it. Add nuts. (For goodness sake, add Oreos, if you feel like it.) Pumpkin pie is your blank canvas in a quest to make it the ultimate fall dessert.
IT’S IMITATED FOR A REASON.
Forbes reported that in 2013 pumpkin spice-flavored foods brought in $350 million a year. It’s true that pumpkin-flavor is everywhere, but that’s because IT’S DELICIOUS. I don’t necessarily condone the pumpkinization of the fall season, but you can’t blame the pie for #PSL. The pie itself stands on its own as a glowing beacon of the perfect combination of flavor and texture. It is so imitated because it is so loved.
IT’S TRADITION, DAMMIT.
While pumpkins were one of the first crops that Europeans brought back from the New World, using the vegetable in pie form didn’t become standard until the early 18th century, according to The History Channel. In fact, pumpkin pie was so important to early Thanksgiving feasts that in 1705 the Connecticut town of Colchester famously postponed its Thanksgiving for a week because there wasn’t enough molasses available to make pumpkin pie. Basically, there IS NO FALL without pumpkin pie. Accept it, then pass me a slice.