food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

chocolate-walnut-pumpkin-pie-imageConfession time: I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie. There. I said it. However, I’m not proud of this declaration. For an American it is rather like saying you hate baseball, or Disney World. Might as well burn your passport and be done with it.

I have to admit I haven’t tried very hard with the whole pumpkin pie liking thing. I’ve  attempted a few slices in my day but they were always too bland, too soft, or too aggressively spiced: Goldilocks and the three pumpkin pies…

chocolate-walnut-pumpkin-pie-imageMy mother is not to blame as she wasn’t keen either. Our family was more of the pecan pie persuasion, preferring that sticky Deep South delicacy that has kept dentists in business for many decades. My Dad made the perfect one once. It was never to be repeated (probably a good thing), but it will always be remembered. I’ve remembered pumpkin pie, but for all the  wrong reasons. Perhaps if I had tried YOUR pumpkin pie, I would be making that and not trying to make my own.

Pumpkin pie is not a commonly seen or requested dessert in the UK, so it has been a bit of a non-issue for a long time. The closest we come is the pumpkin spice latte drink you get at Starbucks. Never had one of those – or any of their sweetened drinks for that matter. And you can also get pumpkin spice candles at TK Maxx (it is a K here in the UK) that smell overwhelmingly/knocking-overly of cinnamon, ginger, sugar and cloves.

However, despite earlier disenchantment with said pie, I wanted to be turned. As an ex-pat living in Scotland for some 20+ years, I occasionally feel a yearning for the country cooking of my youth –  sweet potato casserole, devilled eggs, extra crispy home-fried chicken, sauerbraten. But rarely do I make anything that I grew up eating. We prefer less meaty, less fatty cooking than was the norm in my childhood. But, of course, holidays are always different. Many of us feel okay about loosening the healthful strictures that have become a way of life. Even if only for a few days a year.

I played around with this idea for awhile before actually making it. I had seen and impulsively bought a can of ‘solid pack pumpkin’ (what a great name. not) that mysteriously appeared in the American section of my local Tesco. I normally whizz right past this section, with its squat white jars of marshmallow fluff, Goober peanut butter and jelly, shelves of candy, and nothing of nutritional value whatsoever. But, like hearing the words ‘sex’ or ‘Ryan Gosling’ in someone else’s conversation, I turned when my peripheral vision clocked the familiar label, with its swoopy red Libby’s above a dense, cream-topped pie. I plucked a tin from the shelf and made a dash for it, fearing being spotted in this aisle of iniquity. Knowing me, I probably buried it underneath an avalanche of vegetables, just in case. But of course, it is just cooked ‘solid’ pumpkin, and nothing else.walnuts-and-pumpkin-pie-filling

For a week I stared at the can, almost making the recipe on the label just so my family could try this all-American recipe. But, I also wanted to make a chocolate walnut pie at some point so thought I might as well combine the two ideas and see what happens. What happened was just what I wanted to happen: crisp crust, good hit of chocolate, smooth and mild pumpkin, a veil of winter spice and the crunch and heft of walnuts. It is no lightweight of a pie, but I’m of the school of thought that a little bit of what you fancy – especially during the holidays – does you good. And keeps you from going too crazy.

The pie makes 10 slices, so is perfect for a good-sized gathering – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah (Thanksgivukkah!), the office party. The three of us pecked away at it for almost a week, which is obviously not the best of ideas. But it did keep a great flavour, the crust inevitably softening with each passing day. I will do it again for Christmas, but I will chop the walnuts more finely (in the images the walnuts look like chunks of apple), and keep my dough colder so that it handles into the tin more easily (I had the fire on for the cats…). Other than that I think it is a keeper. I still don’t think it will top my Dad’s pecan pie but, for a pumpkin pie, it’s pretty good.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. I will be back later this week to give you the antidote…

chocolate-walnut-pumpkin-pie-imageChocolate-Walnut Pumpkin Pie

Last year: Tunisian Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine

Two years ago: Old-Fashioned Fresh Apple Cake

Miss R’s track of the week: Honey Pie by the Beatles – but of course!

This pie is dedicated to those of you who – like me – don’t really like pumpkin pie.

The Filling:

300g (1 & 1/3 cups) solid-pack pumpkin OR equivalent cooked and ‘dry’ pumpkin/sweet potato

2 medium eggs or 2 ‘chia eggs’, lightly beaten

¾ tsp salt

150 ml (1/2 cup) real maple syrup (grade B if possible) OR honey

75g (1/3 cup) dark muscovado or dark brown sugar (optional, if not sweet enough with syrup)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground clove

Pinch of ground cardamom or ground seeds from 2 green pods

125g (1 cup) chopped walnuts (or pecans)

75g (½ cup) mini chocolate chips or cacao chips

The Baked Topping:

Walnut halves, to decorate – amount up to you (or pecans)

1 large egg, optional

100ml (1/3 cup) real maple syrup OR honey

30g (2 tbsp) butter OR coconut butter, melted

75g (heaped 1/3 cup) dark muscovado sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

 The Dough: the key is to have everything very cold; work quickly and lightly

170g (1 & 1/3 cup) white spelt flour OR plain/AP flour, cold

85g (5 & 3/4 tbsp) butter, diced and very cold OR vegan margarine

1 tbsp unrefined icing (confectioner’s) sugar

Seeds from ½ vanilla pod

pinch of fine salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp cold water

The dough is for a 9 inch fluted enamel/metal, loose-bottomed pie dish.

1. First of all make the dough. Pop everything but the egg and water in a food processor and blitz until just forming fine crumbs. Add in the egg and 1 tbsp of water and pulse until just mixed. OR, you can rub the butter into sifted flour, salt and icing sugar until you have fine, evenly-sized crumbs. Whisk the vanilla seeds into the egg and water and knife this into the dry mixture. For both methods work it very gently until the dough forms a cohesive ball. Turn out onto a floured, cold surface and pat into a flat disk. I use both methods with good results.

2. Using a floured rolling pin roll out into a thin round – use short rather than long strokes to keep the dough from stretching and developing the gluten too much. When it is about one and a half inches wider than the diameter of the baking tin, roll half of the dough onto the rolling pin and gently drape the dough into the tin. Press it in with your fingers so that there are no gaps. Do not trim any overhanging pastry at this point. This can all be a bit tricky. In fact, mine was so delicate that I ended up patching it together, which resulted in the dough being a little thicker at the sides than I would have liked. Tasted fine though. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

3. While the dough is resting, make the filling. In a large bowl vigorously mix together all of the filling ingredients, except the chocolate chips. Set aside.

4. Lightly prick the dough, crumple a piece of baking parchment and then shape it into the tin; top with ceramic baking beans, chickpeas or rice. This step keeps the dough from puffing up. Place the baking tin on a tray and bake in a 200C/180Cfan/375F oven for 12 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further five minutes. Trim off the excess pastry and cool the pastry case. Turn the oven down to 160C/140Cfan/375F.

5. To assemble the pie: Sprinkle the chocolate chips into the cooled pastry case and spread over the filling. Arrange the walnuts on the top. In a small bowl mix together the topping ingredients and evenly pour over the top of the pie. Place the pie in a 160C/140Cfan/325F oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top looks caramelised and uniformly shiny. Allow to cool in the tin before setting the tin over a wide jar or tin and pushing down on the sides of the tin. This releases the base from the sides. Carefully lift the base and pie onto a board or counter and use a cake lifter or wide spatula to lift the pie onto a serving plate.

This pie makes 10 servings and tastes brilliant with lightly whipped fresh cream, cashew cream, custard or ice cream.

NOTE: I dusted the tin with cocoa powder, but it did make the pie look burned so I don’t recommend this.pie-dough-with-chocolate-chips


pie ready for baking


28 thoughts on “Chocolate-Walnut Pumpkin Pie

  1. I totally *need* this!

  2. Erin Hedrick says:

    Ummmmm YUM! That looks amazing!

  3. Austin Starr says:

    I love your recipes and writing style. So do my foodie friends I’ve sent your blog to. For the record, tho, as a Yankees fan, it’s okay not to like Disney World but it’s not okay not to like baseball. smile.

    1. Point taken. I love going to my nephew’s games when we are over – a highlight of our vacation. And thanks so much for your compliment 😀

  4. Seriously?! This looks amazing. And I’ll back you up here. I’m also American and have never been a fan of pumpkin pie. (Coincidentally also grew up eating pecan pie instead. 😉 I’ve tried a pumpkin pie version using apple butter and that does give a better texture and neutralizes the pumpkin flavor a bit. Still wouldn’t make it unless necessary. This, however, will be made!! Thanks Kellie!

    1. Thanks Katie. Your swap sounds great! I was thinking of playing around with pumpkin and pear so we are obviously thinking along the same subvert-the-pumpkin thing. I think it is the texture more than anything for me (a bit like baby food perhaps?)

  5. haha, I really enjoyed that confession! Looks like you’ve cracked it with this combo, nice!

  6. Fellow pumpkin pie hater (or dis-liker, really) here! I always do a pecan pie instead. If I end up doing pumpkin, I use a whole lot of maple as well, and brulee the topping.

    1. I made the topping so it would seem a bit bruleed without having the stress of getting that just right and not burning down the house ;D Your are obviously braver than I.

  7. Dang Kellie, that looks gooooood! I am in the pumpkin pie camp, but I can appreciate why some aren’t. I think perhaps the walnuts and chocolate would add to the texture some people find so off putting. Another great recipe!

  8. lizzygoodthings says:

    Kellie, I’ve never had pumpkin pie, though I suspect I might like it, if the pastry is good, that is! Your recipe sounds delicious!Thanks for sharing, I could be tempted : D

  9. greengirl56 says:

    Ok this looks amazing! Might just make a regular pumpkin pie eater change! OH MY!

    1. Perhaps just add in the walnuts and chocolate with your own recipe. Don’t mess with yours too much if it is perfect for you as is 😉

  10. I love this idea – what a fresh way to serve pumpkin pie!

  11. This looks and sounds AMAZING!

  12. narf77 says:

    Never understood why people make pumpkin into sweet things when it is so obviously and most gorgeously savoury. I guess we didn’t have “sweet” pumpkins here for many years so we Aussies made it into scones and bread and the best way, roasted with the Sunday roast with lots of savoury gravy. I LOVE pumpkin but fear I wouldn’t be so keen on a sweet pumpkin pie. On the other hand, your pie looks amazing (“burnt” crust and all 😉 ) so I am going to give it a go because I have a predilection for walnuts that can’t be satiated easily. I also fear that your “10 servings” would be my 4 but hey…”whatchagonnadoeh?” 😉

    1. We Americans will make cakes and pies out of most anything. Apparently the canned pumpkin is from a specific pumpkin called culshaw, which is particularly sweet without roasting. I’m not normally a fan – as made clear – but with nuts and chocolate it is more than acceptable. Glad you are so open-minded, my friend 😉

      1. narf77 says:

        If you put just about anything in with chocolate and nuts it will work ;). I have to be open minded. The son-and-heir’s sweetie is a Texan and therefore we inherited Thanksgiving in the transaction 😉

  13. jackie armstrong says:

    mmmm sounds lovely, here is one for you Kellie nothing to do with food but if i mention pickleball you being american you will know what i am on about. This is a new craze in Lockerbie what a fab game

  14. Hi, Kelly,
    I am going to make this for Thanksgivikkah. My husband and one of guests adore pecans, so I will use those. I would also like incorporate Bourbon, as it goes so well with chocolate and pecans. Do you have any tips?

    1. Oh fab! I’m honoured! As for the bourbon, most chocolate pecan pies that call for bourbon use 3 tbsp, so maybe go with that. Hope you and your loved ones enjoy it. Have a wonderful Thanksgivikkah!

      1. Kellie –
        You completely inspired me to combine nuts and chocolate in a pumpkin pie – I gave you a mention in a blog post this morning. Thank you! I ended up using 1 Tbsp. of Bourbon to be safe, but may try to increase in the future. Happy Thanksgiving. I adore your blog. You eat the foods that I love to devour. 🙂
        Best –

  15. What an incredible dessert!!! 🙂

  16. I’ve read & seen so much about pumpkin pie, i’m going pumpkiny.. haven’t tried pumpkin pie before, I’m sold with the walnut

  17. Shannon says:

    Oh my gawd!! I think I just gained weight reading this post. LOL That pie looks decadent, even with canned pumpkin (which I loathe…so dry and tasteless). What a nice twist, putting chocolate in there. I use cold vodka when working pastry crusts; it makes them easier to while keeping them light and flaky, instead of tough and doughy.

    PS — I was always so-so on the pumpkin pie until I had one with fresh pumpkin. No comparison. I must say I’ve not baked yet without fresh yard eggs. I love variations on the humdrum holiday version…thanks!

  18. This sounds great!! I’m also not a huge fan of pumpkin pie – it always ends up mushy and bland! The past few years I have been mixing things up by making a pumpkin pie with a crushed pecan crust, but your pie looks like an even better alternative! It looks like the walnuts would totally make up for the mush factor! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Yeah, I hate mush too. The walnuts are my anti-mush, pro-nutrition stab at rehabilitating this sometimes lacking dessert.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: