Pumpkin is so quintessentially American, I think just about everyone in this country has adopted some form of pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving. If it’s not pumpkin pie, then there’s pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin roll or pumpkin cake – shaped like a pumpkin or not! But is pumpkin pie traditionally served at Southern holiday tables?
I’m wondering about this because we never had pumpkin pie when I was growing up. Our holiday pumpkin pie stand-in was sweet potato pie – and we loved it! In a less than comprehensive look at old and new Southern cookbooks that explore the history of Southern cooking, pumpkin pie – or any reference to pumpkin – is completely missing from several.
We know that pumpkins are native to America and that they will grow in the South, so why aren’t there more pumpkin recipe traditions? Could the fact that Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins are not the best for cooking have something to do with it? Or were sweet potatoes just easier to grow and more appealing to the Southern taste? It’s an interesting subject and the answers may vary across the region and by family history, which is even more interesting.
What about you? Did you grow up eating pumpkin pie? Did your parents? If you did not have pumpkin, what was your favorite Thanksgiving pie?
If you like the idea of a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but prefer something with a little milder pumpkin flavor than a traditional version, you might like this recipe for a twist on a Southern favorite – Pumpkin Chess Pie. Delicious!
Pumpkin Chess Pie
Press´N Bake Cream Cheese Crust
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
4 teaspoons Martha White® Self-Rising Enriched White Corn Meal Mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup half-and-half, plus 2 tbsp.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1. PREPARE cream cheese crust as directed in recipe.
2. HEAT oven to 350°F. Combine sugar and butter in medium bowl; beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add all remaining filling ingredients; beat until well blended. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.
3. BAKE 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from center comes out clean. Pie will continue to set as it cools. Cool on wire rack 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate until well chilled before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream, if desired.