Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie

From Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence by Claire Saffitz

Caralemized Honey Pumpkin Pie from Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz

There are thousands—maybe tens of thousands—of pumpkin pie recipes out there, and almost all of them contain a filling that follows this basic formula: pumpkin + eggs + sugar + dairy + warm spices. So why come up with yet another? Because so often the proportions are off between all these components. Sometimes it’s an overwhelming amount of warm spice, other times too few eggs so the pie isn’t custardy. Most often, there’s too much sugar. I wanted a filling that set firmly into a custard and used strong flavors to balance out the vegetal quality of the pumpkin so I came up with browned butter for richness and caramelized honey (just honey that’s cooked to intensify the flavor) for sweetness. I love this pie and would gladly eat it on any occasion, not just Thanksgiving.


9-inch pie plate, pie weights or 4 cups dried beans or rice (for parbaking)


Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough (recipe follows), parbaked in a 9-inch pie plate and cooled

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (2.5 oz / 71g)
1⁄3 cup honey (4oz/113g)
1 3⁄4 cup heavy cream (6 oz / 170g), at room temperature
4 large eggs (7 oz / 200g), at room temperature
1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar (1.8 oz / 50g)
1 (15 oz / 425g) can unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), preferably Libby’s
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (0.11 oz / 3g)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated), plus more for serving
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
Softly whipped cream, for serving


Preheat the oven: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the parbaked pie crust on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

Brown the butter: In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides constantly with a heatproof spatula. The mixture will sputter as the water boils off. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping, until the sputtering subsides, the butter is foaming, and the solid bits turn a dark brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

Caramelize the honey: Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the honey (to prevent the butter from burning), stirring to combine. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, swirling often, until the mixture is darkened slightly and has a savory, nutty smell, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly stream in the heavy cream, stirring constantly (be careful—the mixture may sputter) until it’s smooth. Set the warm honey mixture aside.

Make the pumpkin filling: In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the whites and yolks, then add the brown sugar and whisk vigorously until the mixture has lightened in color by a shade or two, about 1 minute. Whisk in the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, salt, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves until smooth. Slowly stream in the warm honey mixture, whisking constantly, until the filling is completely homogenous.

Fill the crust and bake: Pour the filling into the parbaked crust all the way to the top. (Depending on the height of your crust, you may have some leftover filling, which I recommend you keep! 4 ) Ever so carefully transfer the pie to the center rack and bake until the filling is set and puffed around the edges and the center wobbles gently, 45 to 60 minutes.

Cool the pie gently: Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Let the pie cool completely in the oven. Doing so will allow it to cool gradually, which will prevent cracking on the surface.

Serve: Slice the pie into wedges and top each piece with softly whipped cream. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg over the cream and serve.



Pie weights or 4 cups dried beans or rice (for parbaking)


1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (5 oz / 142g), chilled
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour (7 oz / 200g), plus more for rolling out
1 tablespoon sugar (0.46 oz / 13g)
3⁄4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt


Prepare the ice water and slice some of the butter: Fill a 1-cup liquid measure with ice water and refrigerate it while you assemble the pie dough. Cut a 5 tablespoon block of the butter (2.5 oz / 71g) crosswise into 1⁄8-inch- thick slices (so you have lots of thin butter squares) and refrigerate.

Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt to combine.

Work the butter into the dry ingredients: Cut the remaining 5 tablespoons butter (2.5 oz / 71g) into 1⁄2-inch cubes and toss in the flour mixture to coat. [1] Quickly and firmly use your fingertips to smash the butter pieces into the flour, flattening them and working into smaller bits until the largest pieces are no bigger than a pea. [2,3] Remove the butter slices from
the refrigerator, add them to the flour mixture, toss to coat, then flatten between your thumbs and fingertips into thin sheets, letting them break apart if that’s what they want to do. Once you’ve worked in all the butter, you should have a very coarse, slightly yellowed mixture filled with some larger pieces of butter and some very small bits.

Bring the dough together: [4] Slowly drizzle 5 tablespoons of the ice water (avoiding any ice) into the mixture, tossing constantly with a fork to incorporate. [5] Switch to your hands and toss the mixture several times until shaggy pieces of dough form, then knead the mixture inside the bowl a few times to bring it together (the dough will look very clumpy and dry, with loose bits). Line the work surface with a sheet of plastic wrap, then transfer any large clumps of dough to the plastic. [6] Tossing again with a fork, drizzle more ice water 1 teaspoon at a time into the bowl with the remaining flour mixture until only a few dry spots remain, then knead with your hands to bring it together into a dough. Transfer the last bits of dough to the plastic wrap.

Wrap and chill the dough: [7] Pat the dough into a 3⁄4-inch-thick square or rectangle. [8,9] Wrap tightly in the plastic, pressing out any air, and press down on the dough with the heel of your hand to flatten it further and force it into the corners of the plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours. The pie dough is technically ready to use at this point, but proceed through the next step, which will make it extra flaky.

Roll out and fold the dough: Let the dough sit on the counter for 5 minutes to soften slightly. Unwrap it and place on a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to beat the dough all across the surface to make it more pliable. [10] Dust the top and underside of the dough with more flour, then roll it out, dusting with more flour as needed, into a rectangle that’s about three times longer than it is wide and between 1⁄4 and 1⁄2 inch thick. [11,12] Fold the dough in thirds like a letter (this makes more butter layers, which create a flaky texture), then wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate the dough until it’s relaxed, at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. It’s now ready to use. If the recipe calls for a lined pie plate, a parbaked crust, or a fully baked crust, follow the directions below.

If baking, preheat the oven and prepare a baking sheet:
Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Line a 9-inch pie plate: Let the pie dough sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to soften slightly, then beat it across the surface again with a rolling pin to make it more pliable. [13] Dust the top and underside of the dough with more flour, then roll it out, dusting with more flour as needed, into a 13-inch round that’s about 1⁄8 inch thick. Roll the pastry onto the rolling pin.
[14,15] Unroll the round onto a 9-inch pie plate, preferably glass, letting the pastry slump gently down the sides into the bottom. Firmly press the pastry into the bottom and up the sides of the plate, ensuring contact everywhere and taking care not to stretch it.
[16] Use scissors to trim around the edge of the pastry, leaving a 1⁄2-inch overhang (discard the scraps).
[17] Tuck the overhang underneath itself all the way around so you have a lip of double-thick pastry resting just around the rim of the pie plate.
[18] Press down firmly around the rim to seal, then crimp the crust all the way around, using the thumb of one hand and the thumb and forefinger of the other, flouring your fingers if needed to prevent sticking. Instead of a crimp, you can also use the tines of a fork to create hash marks around the rim.

Bake the weighted crust: Freeze the lined pie plate until the dough is very firm, about 10 minutes, then prick the bottom of the pastry in several places with a fork to prevent the crust from puffing up. Line the inside of the pie plate with two pieces of foil, arranged perpendicularly, so the overhang of the foil completely covers the edge of the crust. Fill the pie plate with pie weights, dried beans, or rice and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until the edge of the crust is set and starting to turn golden when you peek under the foil, 25 to
30 minutes. Remove the plate from the oven and carefully lift the foil and pie weights out of the crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

To par- or fully bake the crust: Return the pan to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown all over, another 20 to 25 minutes for a parbaked crust, or until deep golden brown all over, 10 to 15 minutes longer, for a fully baked crust. 6 Set the crust aside to cool.


Dessert Person

Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence: A Baking Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In her first cookbook, Bon Appétit and YouTube star of the show Gourmet Makes offers wisdom, problem-solving strategies, and more than 100 meticulously tested, creative, and inspiring recipes.

IACP AWARD WINNER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review Bon Appétit • NPR • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution SalonEpicurious

“There are no ‘just cooks’ out there, only bakers who haven't yet been converted. I am a dessert person, and we are all dessert people.”—Claire Saffitz

Claire Saffitz is a baking hero for a new generation. In Dessert Person, fans will find Claire’s signature spin on sweet and savory recipes like Babkallah (a babka-Challah mashup), Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie, Strawberry-Cornmeal Layer Cake, Crispy Mushroom Galette, and Malted Forever Brownies. She outlines the problems and solutions for each recipe—like what to do if your pie dough for Sour Cherry Pie cracks (patch it with dough or a quiche flour paste!)—as well as practical do’s and don’ts, skill level, prep and bake time, step-by-step photography, and foundational know-how. With her trademark warmth and superpower ability to explain anything baking related, Claire is ready to make everyone a dessert person.
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