When I was growing up, we were absolutely a meat-and-potatoes family, and I mean that almost exclusively. The most exotic meal we would get was a taco casserole every now and then.
So when I went to college, I had a lot of culinary exploration to do. I loved trying cuisines I had never eaten before — sushi, Mediterranean falafel, pad see ew at the nearby Thai establishment. There were so many new things to be consumed!
It wasn't until recently that I even had my first go at Indian food, but I immediately fell in love with the intense, signature spices used in Indian foods. I think I had coconut curry chicken every day for like a week at one point. However, I stayed at my dad's place over the summer, and my curry-making progress hit a roadblock.
See, my dad does not like "ethnic" food. To him, Mexican food is exotic (hence the happy medium of taco casserole). When we order Chinese food, he just orders sweet and sour chicken, but instead of using the sweet and sour sauce, he just eats the chicken, which I'm pretty sure is just fried chicken nuggets. So, he definitely did not like Indian food, especially that wonderful lingering smell that making it leaves behind.
When I wasn't sneakily making tikka masala while he was at work (after stocking up on Febreeze to cover my tracks — because there's nothing like the mixture of lavender and curry), I experimented with ways to incorporate Indian spices into non-traditional foods. And when fall rolled around, I realized that so many of these spices paired so well with the seasonal foods — oh, the squashes, breads and soups! So, chai spice pumpkin pie was born, and the rest was a no-brainer.
Side note: One of the things I was most excited to make for this recipe was whipped cream using coconut milk. However, apparently it's a bit tricky to make this anymore, as many brands of coconut milk now use an ingredient called guar gum, which is a stabilizer that makes it impossible to whip. I went to four different grocery stores trying to find guar gum-less coconut milk, but alas, no luck. So, I settled on coconut extract and shredded coconut as a garnish. Maybe you'll have better luck. Report back.
for the crust
- 1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup melted butter
for the pie
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- dash nutmeg
- dash cardamom
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 T sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- Shredded coconut, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. If you do not yet have your gingersnaps into crumbs, process them in a food processor or put them in a baggie and roll over them with a rolling pin.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the crumbs, butter and sugar. Grease a pie plate (it doesn't have to be too deep — whatever your preference) and them start pressing the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate, making the crust.
- Place the crust in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
- Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, salt and spices for the pie. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sugar mixture and pumpkin puree to the eggs and stir until incorporated. Then, slowly add the milk while stirring.
- Place a metal bowl in the freezer to chill for the whipped topping while you wait.
- Making sure the crust has completely cooled, pour the pumpkin pie mixture over it. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and cook for another 40-50 minutes until the middle is firm. Set aside to cool.
- Once the pie has cooled, combine the whipped topping ingredients in the metal bowl that you oh-so-smartly chilled earlier. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the ingredients, slowly increasing the speed until peaks form. Be very careful not to overmix, or your topping will become chunky.
- When you're ready to serve (not before, because it will taste icky), top the pie with the whipped cream and garnish with shredded coconut. Slice, serve and enjoy!