Have I told you how much I love custard and pudding?  Dense, heavy, rich custard is a treat by itself. Tuck it into a pie between a crispy, spicy, gingersnap crust and a fluffy crown of meringue and it’s a showstopping dessert.

This recipe is inspired by the Mile High Pumpkin Pie recipe from Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann’s  lovely Earth to Table cookbook.

Their version is for a no-bake style of pie using gelatin.  Their reason for the no-bake gelatin route is that they don’t like the way baked custard pie fillings tend to deflate, which I admit is true.  But I don’t care.

My love for that dense rich layer of custard is greater than my love for an albeit larger, gelatin style filling. And, I admit it, I have gelatin issues in general so I tend to avoid it.

So, I switched the recipe back to it’s custard roots and added a gingersnap cookie crust. It’s rich and beautiful in all the best autumn-ey ways.

One other thing – since this is a recipe I cobbled together from here, there and everywhere, there is about twice as much custard as you will be able to fit into a 9-inch piecrust.  But, this is good stuff.

More rich than sweet, instead of halving the recipe, I appreciate the extra custard. The remainder can be gently cooked in a double boiler, whisking often until it thickens into a beautiful custard/pudding. Serve drizzled with a bit of chocolate sauce & topped with homemade whipped cream and YUM!  It’s a two-fer!  I’ve also frozen the cooked custard for later use, and while it does suffer a bit in texture, it’s still a welcome treat.

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 1/2 cup crumbled ginger snaps (I haven’t tried this yet, but chocolate wafer cookies would be a tasty variation too…)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a food processor, blend ginger snaps, sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle in butter and process 30 seconds. Pat mixture evenly into a 9″ pie shell and bake for 7 minutes.

1 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream
2 cups roasted pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs

Cream the cheese and sugar until smooth. Add cream and mix until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides.  Add pumpkin, eggs, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg; beat until smooth.  Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350F until set and slightly browned, about 35 minutes.

1 cup pure maple syrup
3 large egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar

In a saucepan, heat maple syrup over high heat until it registers 250F on a candy thermometer. (I don’t have one, guessed when it went over the maximum on a standard meat thermometer and it all turned out fine – catch it before it hardens to candy)

Meanwhile, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.  Gradually add maple syrup in a slow, continuous stream, eating until whites puff up and take on a glossy shine, about ten minutes.

Spread meringue over cooled pie and with the back of a spoon make large, swooping curls. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until meringue is golden brown. Place pie on lower rack to prevent burning – it can happen fast.

Be sure to display this one where you can enjoy it’s beauty before you dig in – it’s a treat for the eyes and the palate!