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Pumpkin Pie w/ Sesame Snaps

What are your must-have pies for Thanksgiving?  For me, it's just not the same if there's not at least a Pumpkin Pie and a Pecan Pie.  I like to add one or two extras to the mix every year, as well...just for variation.  Sometimes it's Bourbon Sweet Potato.  Occasionally it's a form of Apple (Crumb, Cheddar-Crust, Upside Down).  Once I made a killer Cranberry Tart.  Sometimes we do the Chocolate Pecan (...though, I prefer my Pecan to be left alone.  OH!  Unless it's the Rum Runner Pecan Pie I make sometimes.  That I'll take).  I've even done Buttermilk Pie in the past.  And every couple of years, some sort of harvesty cake makes its way into the mix.  I mentioned before that this is the first year that we didn't meet up with the extended family for our Turkey Day dinner...and in turn, I didn't need to make so many desserts.  The two pies that I did make were even a bit much.   But something inside won't let me make just one.  The one thing I'm bummed about is that I didn't make or even eat a slice of Pecan Pie this year.  Pecan prices are just too steep for me right now.  So I stuck with a Pumpkin and a fantastic Apple Cider Pie (watch for it...). I don't think I've ever made the same version Pumpkin twice.  I like mine thick and heavy on the spice, so I added some cardamom, allspice, and cloves in with the other spices.  I really enjoyed this cream cheese crust.  It didn't get soggy and it had a nice snap to it.  The fun part, though?  Definitely the shards of sesame seed snaps (brittle) strewn across the top.  It added a contrast in texture and a great hint of nuttiness to each bite.  This one will appear in the rotation quite often, me thinks.
Cream Cheese Crust
yield: 1 (9") pie crust

1¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
½ tsp. salt
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) cold butter, cut in pieces
2 oz. cold cream cheese, cut in pieces
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2-4 Tbs. ice water

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Add butter and cream cheese and pulse until pea-sized.  Add vinegar and 2 Tbs. of icewater; pulse until dough holds together.  Add a bit more ice water, as needed until you can press dough together.  Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic and pat into a disk.  Chill at least 4 hours.
Sesame Seed snaps

½ c. sugar
1 Tbs. water
1½ Tbs. sesame seeds, toasted
big pinch sea salt

Cook sugar and water over medium-high until amber, ~7 minutes.  Stir in sesame seeds and salt.  Immediately spread on a silpat, sheet of parchment (or greased foil); let cool completely, then break apart.  Store in a cool place in an airtight container until ready to use.
Pumpkin Pie w/ Sesame Snaps
yield: 1 (9") pie

1 recipe cream cheese crust
flour, for dusting
15 oz. pumpkin puree
1 c. evaporated milk
⅔ c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cardamom
⅛ tsp. ground allspice
small pinch ground cloves
a few good grates of nutmeg
1 recipe sesame seed snaps

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a 12" circle.  Gently drape it over a 9" pie plate.  Fit it in and tuck the overhand under itself.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350° F.  

Prick bottom of crust with a fork.  Line with parchment, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake until edges are golden, ~20 minutes.  Remove beans and parchment and bake 10 minutes more.  Cool on a wire rack.

Whisk pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, and spices in a bowl; pour into par-baked shell.  Bake until center is just barely set, ~1 hour.  Cover edges with foil if they begin to get too dark.  Cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle the shards of sesame seed snaps over the pie just before serving.  note: If you don't think the whole pie will get eaten right away, then I recommend only sprinkling them on the individual slices.  If you sprinkle it over the whole pie, then wrap up the remainder for later, the shards will turn back into a syrup that sits on the top of the pie and eventually sinks in.

*This pie was adapted from 50 Pies insert of Food Network Magazine (Nov. '11)
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