What makes pumpkin pie better? Molasses. But what is molasses, exactly?
Molasses is a syrup that results from sugar production. To make sugar, sugar cane or beets are crushed to extract their juice, which is then boiled down to form sugar crystals. The crystals are taken out, and the remaining juice is molasses, which may be boiled two or three more times to extract more crystals. The most common type of molasses used in baking comes from the first boiling; it is the lightest in color and sweetest in taste. The second boiling results in dark molasses, and the third results in blackstrap molasses, which is the thickest and most bitter-tasting. Blackstrap molasses is said to have health benefits because it contains vitamin B6 and minerals like calcium and magnesium, but it’s usually not recommended for baking. In fact, I’ve read many a recipe that calls for molasses and then indicates “not blackstrap” to ensure a sweet result.
Last week, I took some pumpkin molasses cookies to work and my colleague Linda told me that she had a good recipe for pumpkin molasses pie. Naturally, I had to try it…and it was just as delicious as I expected.
- 1 single pie crust, unbaked
- 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line an 8-inch pie dish with crust, then trim and shape edge as you like. I did a classic crimped edge for this crust.
Place your pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper to catch any spills.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, light brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and molasses. Add eggs and evaporated milk, stirring very well to combine.
Pour filling into pie dish and place a crust shield* around the edge to prevent over-browning. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the crust shield and continue baking another 10-15 minutes. Pie is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; don’t worry about the little hole it will leave, as you can always cover this up with whipped cream before serving.
Remove pie from oven and cool completely before serving. Pie will be very puffy when it first comes out of the oven and will fall as it cools – this is completely fine.
Store pie in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
*You can buy a crust shield at King Arthur Flour and many baking supply stores. If you don’t have one handy, take a 12-inch piece of foil and fold it into quarters. Take scissors and cut out the center, leaving a 2-inch wide ring. Carefully unfold the foil and place the guard on your pie edge.