Many people over the years have told me that the chai my family makes smells a lot like pumpkin pie! I often fought against this description, not wanting my family's amazing chai to get roped up into the realm of pumpkin spice lattes and the such. However, some time ago, I was brainstorming creative twists on classic Thanksgiving dishes, and getting some messages from other folks who had made the chai masala recipe and wanted suggestions on how to use up the massive quantity of chai masala that they had. I put two and two together, and decided to make this lovely spiced chai pumpkin pie!
Before we get to that, though, let's talk about pie crust. I've had a long love hate relationship with pie crust. It was finicky to make, inevitably broke apart during the rolling process, and never was quite buttery/flaky/delicious enough to merit making it regularly. Then I read this article by the amazing J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and my pie making life changed forever. It completely elucidates every frustration I've ever had with pie and creates an easy recipe that takes minutes to make and has worked flawlessly for me every. single. time. The Lion and I have been eating a LOT of pie lately. The recipe also defies all common pie logic--the dough is completely over processed in a food processor and it still rolls out perfectly and creates just the flakiest, most delicious pie crust ever! Please, please, PLEASE read the article if you've ever been frustrated with pie crust. Your belly will thank you later.
Back to the pumpkin pie...I decided to amp up my pumpkin pie a bit by using the chai masala blend instead of traditional pumpkin pie spices. In reality, most traditional pumpkin pie spices are similar to the spices in the chai masala, except that our chai masala contains a wallop of a dose of black pepper and ginger. I was a bit nervous at first, and more so when I added 5 tsp of the stuff to the pie, but it ended up delicious! At first it is smooth and creamy and tastes exactly like pumpkin pie, as you begin to chew the chai flavor creeps up, and there is a slight heat at the end as the black pepper and ginger sing through the sweet, creamy, pumpkin flavor. You could, of course, add slightly less masala to the pie, but where's the fun in that? Try this pie if you'd like an interesting twist on a very traditional Thanksgiving dessert. I promise you won't regret it!
Pie crust adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and this amazing article
6 and 1/4 oz all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt
1 stick butter, cubed and chilled
3-4 Tbsp cold water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
15 oz pumpkin puree
12 oz evaporated milk
3-5 tsp chai masala (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 pinch of salt
Make the pie crust:
Place 2/3 of the flour into the bowl of a food processor along with the sugar, salt, and butter. Pulse until the mix looks like wet sand and begins to significantly clump up. This will take about a minute of pulsing. Loosen up the larger clumps with a rubber spatula and add in the remaining flour. Pulse about 5 times.
Dump everything into a large bowl. Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp of water. Carefully fold the mixture together. If it still seems really dry, add the last Tbsp of water in small sprinkles. Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
When the dough has cooled, remove from the fridge and roll out on a well floured surface. Roll until large enough to cover a 9 inch pie pan with about 1/2 inch of overhang. Carefully drape onto the pie plate. Trim any excess dough. Bake this and eat it. It tastes like shortbread with a better texture. Fold the 1/2 inch overhang under, and pinch to create a pretty border. Let it rest while prepping the pie filling.
Make the pie filling:
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Beat together the eggs and the sugars until frothy. Add in the pumpkin puree, chai masala, and salt. Stir to thoroughly combine. Add the evaporated milk and whisk to thoroughly combine.
Carefully pour into the pie pan.
Place in the oven and bake at 450F for 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325F and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean. This is usually 25-35 minutes.
Allow the pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.