Our family favorite Paradise Pumpkin Pie recipe combines the best of two worlds. This layered pumpkin pie uses pumpkin and cream cheese to create 2 layers.
As I get older, Thanksgiving is quickly becoming my favorite Holiday. There is something to be said for this quiet little Holiday that gets stuck in between it’s two boisterous relatives – Halloween and Christmas. Unlike their frenzied celebratory nature, Thanksgiving is simply about eating a hearty meal together with your family and I have fallen in love with its simplicity.
Each year as Thanksgiving approaches, I go on a mission to find something new to make. But I don’t go scouring the internet for the latest and greatest creation. Instead, I delve into the depths of our mother’s recipe box. Although, truth be told, it’s not actually Aa proper box of any means; it’s a ratty old Fanny Farmer cookbook stuffed to the brim with newspaper clippings, and glossy magazine photos, from years long gone by. But this is where all of our best family recipes can be found – on aged index cards, marred with fingerprints and torn corners.
One of the best things about the recipes in our mother’s collection is that they almost always come with an interesting story. For example, the story behind this Paradise Pumpkin Pie recipe is that my sister is named after the woman who gave my mom this recipe. According to the story, “Danielle” was one of the prettiest and nicest people my mom had ever met, so she decided to name my sister after her. (I find this story to be quite amusing – not only for its randomness, but also because my sister is actually one of the nicest people I know – perhaps there’s something to be said for the name Daniele!)
Anyways, Paradise Pumpkin Pie is delicious in its original form, but since I’m always meddling with my mother’s recipes, I added a homemade graham cracker crust and covered it in white chocolate ganache. This pie tastes best after it has rested in the fridge overnight; it gives the flavors a chance to meld and the ganache time to settle properly. It’s the perfect pie to please both cheesecake and pumpkin pie lovers!
PARADISE PUMPKIN PIE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- 2 sleeves Nabisco graham crackers, fine crumbs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
Pumpkin Pie Layer:
- 15 oz can of Libby’s uncooked pumpkin
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 8 oz good white chocolate, finely chopped (I prefer Ghirardelli – it melts really well.)
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the springform pan
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF degrees F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a springform pan.
Step 2: Pulverize the graham crackers into fine crumbs. (I actually stick them in a plastic bag and let the kids run over them while I prep everything.)
Step 3: Mix crumbs, 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter together in a bowl.
Step 4: Press and pat the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. (You should have enough to come at least halfway up the sides of the pie pan, if not higher.)
Step 5: Bake for 6 minutes in a preheated 350ºFF oven. Remove from oven and place springform pan on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
Step 6: While the crust cools, combine the cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar and ½ tsp vanilla; blend well. Then add the slightly beaten egg and mix thoroughly. (Make sure your cheesecake batter is smooth – no one wants a lumpy cheesecake!)
Step 7: Gently spread the cheesecake mixture on top of the graham cracker crust.
Step 8: Combine the remaining ingredients – pumpkin through eggs – and mix well.
Step 9: Slowly pour pumpkin pie mixture over the cheesecake layer.
Step 10: Place the springform pan on top of a cookie sheet to stabilize (this pie is heavy) and bake for 1 hour.
Step 11: Remove pie from oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, using a sharp knife sprayed in Pam, run knife along the edges of the springform pan to release the crust from the sides. (If you do not wish to add the ganache, you can stop here. Paradise Pumpkin Pie is delicious with, or without, the ganache.)
Step 12: Once pie is cooled, place a paper towel on top of the pumpkin layer and gently press it down. This will remove some of the oil from the top of the pie, allowing the ganache to sit happily on top. (I usually place my pie in the refrigerator overnight and ganache first thing in the morning to ensure that the pie really is cooled.)
Step 13: Before starting your ganache, make sure all of your utensils are completely clean and dry. (Wet bowls or tools can ruin ganache.)
Step 14: Finely chop white chocolate and place in a large bowl. (The chocolate needs to be finely chopped so that the hot cream can melt it easily.)
Step 15: Meanwhile, heat ¾ cup heavy cream in a large pan and bring to a rolling boil. Add butter to the bowl, and then carefully add the hot cream to the finely chopped chocolate.
Step 16: Starting in the middle of the bowl, and slowly circling towards the edges, gently stir the cream and chocolate together for approximately two minutes. (Try not to lift the whisk up and down – you don’t want air bubbles in your ganache.)
Step 17: Once the ganache has cooled, you can create a “crumb coat”. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of ganache on top of the pie and spread it outwards towards the crust. (This will prevent any crumbs from sticking to the rest of the ganache.)
Step 18: Once the crumb coat is in place, pour the rest of the ganache in the center of the pie and quickly spread outwards to the crust. Refrigerate the pie overnight, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.
Note: You can make your ganache ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight. To turn the solid mass back into a pourable state, simply create a hot water bath and set the ganache-filled bowl inside of it. The ganache will soften in just a few minutes. If you get into any trouble with your ganache, just visit Baking911 for tips and tricks – it’s excellent!