Pumpkin pecan caramel pie inspired by dad
Thanksgiving time always means my dad's pumpkin pecan pie. It takes the classic pumpkin pie and adds in the nutty and delicious pecan flavor I love so much. I knew I had to work on a thanksgiving dessert inspired by his, with a bit of a twist bringing caramel into the mix.
This pie uses a classic pie crust, I'll share my go to recipe and you can of course use your own or any store bought pie (even a graham cracker crust would be delicious!). It's partially baked first then filled with a thick, pumpkin pie filling that has the smoothest texture. Once you bake your crust and pumpkin pie filling, you'll make a caramel pecan topping made with store bought caramels, butter, pecans, and heavy cream. You can enjoy the pie warm or it tastes even better after it sets in the fridge which makes it a great pie to make a day or two before the holiday.
I wanted to make this pie an easy holiday win. As I mentioned, the crust is completely baker's choice. The pumpkin pie filling whisks together by hand and bakes for just about 30 minutes. Once your pumpkin pie is chilled, the caramel pecan topping melts together quickly in a pot on your stovetop, you'll mix it in a small bowl while adding the remainder of your cream and then the mixture gets poured right on top of your pie to set and you're ready to serve! The topping makes the pie stress free so you don't have to worry about what your pumpkin pie looks like when it comes out of the oven, and the combination of pumpkin, caramel, and pecan is just incredible.
When picking ingredients for your pie, I have a few go tos. For store bought caramels, I typically buy Kraft brand individually wrapped caramels or Werther's Original soft caramels. For my pie crust, Plugra is my top pick of butter, and I also love Cabot brand. I love using the pumpkin pie spice from Simply Organic, but any store bought mix will be great and makes things just a little simpler. If you're unable to find a premixed pumpkin pie spice or don't want to purchase it, you can instead use a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Pie crust (or use a store bought pie crust, your own recipe or any crust alternative):
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 180g
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick + 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter 141g
1/4 cup ice cold water
Pumpkin pie filling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar 48g
3/4 cup light brown sugar 144g
1/4 cup cornstarch 32g
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted 113g
4 egg yolks from large eggs
1/3 cup canned pumpkin 86g
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel pecan topping:
3 tablespoons butter 43g
1 cup pecans measured whole, then chopped 112g
12 pieces soft caramel 99g
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream, separated
Total time: About 4 hours
Prep time: Under an hour
Bake time: 45 minutes
Chill time: Minimum of 1-2 hours
Rubber spatula / heatproof spoon
9.5 inch pie dish
Non stick pot
Medium heatproof bowl
Additional tools you may need: rolling pin, pastry cutter, plastic wrap, pie weights, sharp knife, cutting board
Optional, make your pie crust. If you choose to make your own crust, do this step first so that you can chill your dough fully before rolling it out and partially baking it. Cube your butter and place back into the fridge to keep it cold. Put a quarter cup of COLD water and an ice cube or two into a small dish and place into the fridge as well.
Into a large bowl, measure your dry ingredients - flour and salt. Mix to combine.
Add your butter into your dry ingredients and use your hands or a pastry cutter to combine your butter and dry ingredients. You want your butter to reduce in size, but to still be able to see visible pieces of butter. Be sure to move quickly so your butter remains cold - if it feels too soft or warm at all, place it into the fridge or freezer for about 10 minutes.
Next, slowly add in your ice cold water, and using a spatula mix quickly to form your pie dough. Only add as much water as you need. Once your dough begins to hold together, pour it onto plastic wrap, form it into a round disk, wrap it, and place into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Partially bake your crust. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out and shape your pie crust into your pie dish. Place it back into the fridge to chill while your oven preheats - ensure it's cold before hitting the oven so it keeps its shape.
Bake your crust for a total of 15 minutes, with pie weights on your crust for the first half. I use crumpled up parchment paper with my pie weights on top so that it's easy to remove them.
Make your pumpkin pie filling. Lower your oven temperature to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, use a whisk to combine your dry ingredients until there are no clumps - granulated sugar, light brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, and pumpkin spice.
Melt your stick of butter in a separate dish and add in and whisk to combine with your dry ingredients.
Next, whisk in your egg yolks one at a time and once fully combined, slowly whisk in your canned pumpkin, heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Pour your pumpkin pie filling into your partially baked crust and place into the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Your pie filling should be darkened around the edges and should still jiggle slightly once baked.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for about an hour.
Make your pecan caramel topping and finish your pie. Prep your ingredients. Chop your pecans and set aside. Unwrap your caramel pieces too and set them aside as well. Measure out your 1/4 cup of heavy cream and keep a tablespoon measuring spoon and your heavy cream handy. Set a medium, heatproof bowl out as well.
Into a nonstick pot over a medium high heat, add in your butter. Once melted, add in your chopped pecans and mix together using a rubber spatula or heat safe tool. Continue to stir until your butter begins to bubble and you can smell the pecans beginning to toast, just a couple of minutes.
Next, add in your caramel. Continue to stir until your caramel melts completely, this should take a few minutes - just keep stirring.
Turn the heat off, and pour in your 1/4 cup of heavy cream and continue to mix with your spatula. Pour your mixture into your heatproof bowl you set aside for a minute. Using a spatula or spoon, mix for about a minute as your mixture cools just slightly. It's okay if you notice your butter separating a little bit at this point.
Finally, add in your remaining two tablespoons of heavy cream and continue to mix. You should see the mixture thicken and smooth at this point.
Pour your pecan caramel mixture over the top of your pumpkin pie and spread to cover the full top of your pie. Allow your pie to cool at room temperature for about an hour and then place into the fridge to chill for another hour (or more) before slicing and enjoy!
Notes for chilling, serving and storing:
If you want to serve your pie warm, you can slice after your pecan caramel topping has set at room temperature for an hour. I recommend chilling for about two to three hours if you want a clean slice. If you want to make the full pie ahead of time, allow it to chill completely in the fridge before covering carefully with plastic wrap. It will still taste fresh for a few days stored in the fridge. You can also individually wrap slices in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or plastic bag and freeze to enjoy any time. If you want, you can also bake the crust and pie filling ahead of time and freeze it or store in the fridge and then make your pecan caramel topping the day of to be served warm on top of your pie.
Carb and serving info:
Carbs in full pie with homemade crust: 469
Carbs per serving (1 of 8 slices): 59
Carbs per serving (1 of 12 slices): 39
Carbs in pumpkin pie filling: 242
Carbs in pecan caramel topping: 89
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.