PRALINE PUMPKIN PIE
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup pecan halves
2-1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 large egg
1 - 1 pound can (2 cups) pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and allspice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 - 12 ounce can evaporated milk (1-1/2 cups)
2 large eggs
Lightly butter a bake sheet. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer, swirling as needed to help dissolve the sugar. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue at a slightly faster pace until the sugar begins to caramelize. When the entire mixture is evenly colored and lightly browned, swirl in the pecans, tilting and turning the pan to coat all the nuts.
Pour the praline onto the buttered sheet and let it sit, untouched, until it hardens and cools. Break off 1/2 of the praline, and pulverize it in pieces in a blender or food processor. Reserve this for the pie filling. Store remaining pieces in a tightly sealed container for later use.
Blend together the flour and salt. Cut the butter into teaspoon-sized pieces and work into the flour with mixer, food processor, or pastry blender until it resembles the texture of coarse sand. Work in the cream cheese the same way. Stir in the egg until a dough forms. Lightly coat the dough with flour, wrap tightly, and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
Combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, spices, and salt in a 2 quart bowl or food processor. Mix thoroughly. Work in the other ingredients one at a time, stirring only long enough to blend them.
Assembling the Pie:
Roll out 1/2 the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Lift it over into a 8" pie pan. Fold and trim the edge. Sprinkle a layer of praline crumbs over the bottom. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
Filling and baking:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the crust from the freezer and spoon on the pumpkin filling gently so the praline stays at the crust level. Sprinkle another generous layer of praline powder on top the of pie filling. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 20 minutes or until the top is puffed and firm around the outside but still slightly wobbly in the center.
Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 8-10 pieces