Full disclosure: I’m a serious pie snob. As in, I don’t count it as “making a pie” if you don’t make your own crust. As in, I have extended conversations about pie crust with my grandma. As in, I plan my Thanksgiving pies a month in advance. As in, I have serious opinions as to which pies can be served in which seasons. As in, we served pie instead of cake at our wedding. I take my pies very seriously, so my resolution to try a new pie every month was not flippant and it should be known that I already have a pretty vast repertoire of really good pies that I can make.
In my quest to add new pies to the repertoire, I invested in some resources, the first being the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. It’s a really stellar collection of authentic pie recipes, organized by season, with creative flavor combinations. The authors of the cookbook, and owners of an adorable pie shop of the same name, take pie snobbery to a whole new level. I decided my first pie should obviously come from their “Winter” chapter. Eggnog immediately caught my eye.
See, I’m not really an eggnog fan, but my husband is a huge eggnog fan. It seems that there are really two camps as far as eggnog consumption and it boils down to whether or not you find the idea of melted ice cream appealing or not. Personally, I say, I’d prefer it frozen. My husband would say “drinkable ice cream? Awesome!”. This pie is not nearly so divisive – it’s enough like eggnog to please eggnog lovers, but not enough so that it would turn eggnog haters off. To me, it has a really nice cheesecake quality without the work (and extreme richness) of actual cheesecake.
Although this pie took me 3 days to make, it’s not really very difficult and you can knock it out in 2 hours (including baking time), which is great for a pie. It took me 3 days because on Monday I decided to make the pie and added the ingredients to my grocery list, including gingersnaps for the gingersnap crust. On Tuesday, I went to the store and they had no gingersnaps, so I decided to make my own. Tuesday night, I made gingersnaps (and they were awesome, I’ll blog about them soon!), but realized I was a cup short of flour so I stuck the dough in the freezer until Wednesday, when I went back and got flour. Wednesday I baked the gingersnaps, and Friday I finally baked the actual pie. Then I went to Trader Joe’s where they sell gingersnap cookies. Alas, storebought would work fine (I mean, the homemade cookies were REALLY good, but I’m not sure how much better).
So I say all of this to say – try this pie. It’s really good.
For the crust:
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
4T butter, melted (I used salted, if you have unsalted, add a little salt)
For the filling:
3/4 cup cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla paste (which is delicious, but if you don’t have it, vanilla extract would be fine)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 of a lemon
1. Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften. Preheat the oven to 375. To make the crust, use a food processor, crush the gingersnap cookies into a fine crumb (to get a cup, I used 13 2.5″ homemade cookies). Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar, salt, and melted butter. Press the mixture into a pie dish, using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to distribute. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 after you remove it.
2. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar, spices, and vanilla together until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides between to make sure you don’t get a big glob of cream cheese at the bottom. Add the heavy cream and rum, continuing to beat until incorporated. Squeeze the wedge of lemon in and give it a few more seconds of mixing.
3. Pour the filling into the prepared, cooling crust. I had slightly too much filling, so you may have a little excess. Bake the pie at 325 for 25 minutes, then rotate it to make sure it bakes evenly. Bake another 20 minutes, until the edges are set (45 minutes). The middle will still not be set, but it will after you remove it from the oven.
4. Let the pie cool for a few hours before serving. I found it really set up well after an hour in the refrigerator. You could sift a little cinnamon over the top, but warning that it may come out in a big blob, which you’ll try to scrape off and leave a big hole and cinnamon smear in the side of the pie, which is why the picture is cropped way close.
Source: Barely adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Melissa and Emily Elsen