The filling for this pie is covered with a thin layer of superfine sugar, which turns into a beautiful, brittle sheet of caramel when bruleed, or burned, with a small kitchen blowtorch (available at amazon.com). That step is optional, though -- the pie is terrific without it, too. Note: the total time for this recipe includes making the dough, cooling, and chilling.
Photography: Marcus Nilsson
Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2013
Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 17 hours (includes making dough, cooling, and chilling)
3 cups whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
10 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved
2 large eggs
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Pumpkin-Seed Piecrust, prebaked
1/4 cup superfine sugar (optional)
Bring milk, cinnamon, vanilla-bean seeds, peppercorns, cloves, and ginger to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until milk is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Let mixture cool completely, about 2 hours. Pour through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Strained milk can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat together eggs in a bowl. Whisk in pumpkin, then granulated sugar and salt. Whisk in strained milk and pour into prebaked piecrust. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and cover edges with foil, avoiding custard. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until custard is just set in center, about 25 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 2 hours, then refrigerate, uncovered, at least 8 hours.
When ready to serve, place 2 tablespoons superfine sugar in a sieve and evenly sift over top of pie (avoid crust). Move a small kitchen blowtorch back and forth across sugar until caramelized. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, making a second caramelized layer, and serve immediately.