I have to admit I was wary when making this pie from Bobby Flay’s new book “Throwdown!”, which features recipes from his cooking challenge show on Food Network. For one, whenever he is challenged on his baking skills, he is nervous because he knows baking is not his forte.
Second, even he acknowledges taking the easy way out by making a graham cracker crust rather than making a pastry crust. Third, he admits the “Throwdown” show audience booed him for using pumpkin puree from a can. Well, he won the challenge.
So when my co-worker and I agreed to bring pumpkin pie leftover from our Thanksgiving celebrations, and be judged by our peers in an informal “Throwdown” of our own, I was feeling pretty unbeatable. After all, I’m the more domestic of the two of us – married with a kid and I bake all the time, while my competitor is a bachelor and admits not to baking.
Still, when I ate a mouthful of his pie, I was gobsmacked. It was delicious! Where Flay veers from the traditional course with his recipe, my competitor, J, made a classic pumpkin pie. I made one pie with the graham cracker crust for my family, but the second one was in a Tenderflake crust.
My co-worker J also used a Tenderflake crust, but his recipe was his mom’s very own pumpkin pie recipe, which he says includes lots of corn syrup and brown sugar (he held the recipe close to his chest). Well, the results are in, and I have to say it was a close race, with bonus points for my pie for spice and presentation and bonus points to J for his texture but in the end I won overall. I’m pulling rank and calling it even.
If you want to try Bobby Flay’s recipe, you can find it here.
I didn’t have bourbon, so I used vanilla extract for the whipped cream. This recipe makes enough filling for two pies, but the ingredients for the crust are enough only for one pie, so you might want to consider doubling the crust ingredients, or simply using a ready-made crust for the second pie like I did.
Would I make this again? Yes, but I think it’s the maple whipped cream, cinnamon crunch, and graham cracker crust that makes this recipe so good, rather than the actual pumpkin pie filling. I prefer a more dense filling and this one was more-pudding like. The recipe called for a rather liberal use of spices and my feeling is that these overpowered the pumpkin puree rather than complement it.
But perhaps I was lukewarm about the filling because I didn’t keep it chilled before serving it to my co-workers. (Full disclaimer: the pie they tried did not have the graham cracker crust nor the whipped cream due to the logistics of travel. But they appreciated the cinnamon crunch, that they did.)
Grade: Four stars out of five. A lot of trouble for an admittedly delicious pie.