Oh, Thanksgiving. How you torture me.
For weeks, I test out pie recipe after pie recipe, putting my very favorites right here on JAB for all to enjoy. But when the big day comes, I have to decide which pies to put on the table. So far, I’m committed to a Dutch apple pie with oat crust and some kind of cookie pie, as well as my pumpkin ganache pie. But that leaves two pies up in the air, plus a non-pie dessert. I’m thinking Kahlua cake.
These little guys are certainly a serious contender. They’re small enough to be portion-controlled (though who wants that on Thanksgiving?), and they have just the right amount of both chocolate and pumpkin. Plus, they’re elegant. I’m quite a fan.
I was busy watching an episode of Next Great Baker this morning while I whipped up some ganache. First of all, I love that show, but I love baking while I watch that show even more. If you’re not familiar, a posse of bakers vie for the grand prize from Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro, which usually includes a whole lotta cash as well as a chance to work at Carlo’s Bakery. The bakers have to be smart and talented, but they also have to move very fast.
The show really should be called Next Great Cake Decorator, because that’s the focus. I’ve seen many a clearly talented baker get booted because a cake failed. Sometimes the flaws are structural, but often, it’s that the decorating just doesn’t go that well. I have a lot of faith in my baking skills, but I’d never do that well on the show because my fondant skills just…aren’t. I don’t even like fondant.
What Buddy should totally do is a Next Great Baking Blogger show. I’d watch that, and I bet some of you would, too. We could all vie for some awesome prize, like Queen of the Baking World. I’ve always wanted a crown. Or heck, we could also compete for cold hard cash. I like that, too.
While I was watching this morning, I saw these two huge, jacked-up bakers from New Jersey flexing their various muscle groups and looking so proud of their ability to lift gigantic cakes. And all I could think about was how proud they were of their hugeness. I’ve always been petite, and I’m cool with that. So I guess we love what we relate to. They love their giant cake, and I love my little pies.
These are so cute, and of course, they aren’t just pumpkin. They’re chocolate pumpkin. To make the filling, you literally melt chocolate and add it to all the standard pumpkin pie ingredients. The result is pretty noteworthy. The pie tastes a lot like pumpkin pie, but there’s that added richness of the chocolate. If you’ve never tried it, I urge you to give it a shot.
I used refrigerated dough, rolling out little circles and placing them in a muffin tin. In went the filling, and after baking and a night of chilling, I piped a lattice design on top with hot fudge. If you never use hot fudge for decorating, you should. It comes out more slowly than melted chocolate, giving you more control over the final look.
Even as I write this, I’m itching to get back to Next Great Baker. I’m so much more productive in the kitchen when I can bake right along with a whole slew of hyper-competitive dessert chefs. Or cake decorators. Whatever they are, they’re fun. And so are these little tiny pies! Try to work both into your life, if you possibly can.
Mini Chocolate Pumpkin Pies
2 refrigerated pie crusts, unrolled according to package directions
1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 and 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
hot fudge ice cream topping
- Preheat the oven to 350. Coat two 12-yield muffin tins with cooking spray. Set aside.
- On a nonstick surface like Silpat, roll out the pie dough. Using a drinking glass, cut out circles and fit each circle into the muffin tin, being sure to press the dough up the sides. Poke the bottom of each little crust with a fork.
- Bake the crusts for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- While the crusts are baking, make the pie filling. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate chips for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate melts smoothly into the butter. Set aside.
- Combine the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pumpkin mixture, making sure the filling is smooth and all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Spoon the pie filling into the crusts, filling up to near the top. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the filling is set.
- Cool completely. Chill the mini-pies overnight.
- When you're ready, fill a piping bag with room-temperature hot fudge ice cream topping. Using a small round tip, pipe a lattice design onto the pies.
- Serve. Store chilled and covered.