Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie with Caramel Walnut Topping

Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie with Caramel Walnut Topping

Every year I develop a new pumpkin pie recipe and add it with a pretend drum roll to the Thanksgiving dessert table. I do this even though no one in the Bradley family, except me and our son Joshua, actually likes pumpkin pie.

So you can imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when we were invited to a Thanksgiving potluck and asked to bring ONLY the pumpkin pie. (How could they know that was my favorite part of the meal?) I used the opportunity to create SIX new pumpkin pies that year and of course brought them all to the potluck, each with a little description alongside. Some folks in that appreciative gathering actually ate a tiny slice from each of the six pies. I was delighted.

Not MauiJim though. Not one bite. And that chapped my hide.

Mixing Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie with Caramel Walnut Topping

So this year, even though at heaven’s door with acute bronchitis and swine flu (3 weeks and still counting), I decided that this might be my last chance to change my darling husband’s mind about my beloved pumpkin pie. I was determined not to leave this world until I got at least one bite of pumpkin pie into his mouth, which might magically end this aversion that has been with him since childhood.

Thus, in my feverish delirium, I hit upon the one element that I could add to the pie that might tempt him to actually taste it: CARAMEL. Which turned out to be PURE GENIUS!

Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie Hot from the Oven

To tell you that this pie is beyond delicious is not to do it justice. But perhaps you will get some inkling of how good it is when I reveal that MauiJim ate an ENTIRE LARGE PIECE. Oh sure, he tried to avoid the pumpkin sour cream custard  while zeroing in on the caramel, but in the end that effort proved futile, so he ate the whole darned thing. And then he raved about it and asked how long he had to wait to have another slice.

I am tickled beyond measure. My man ate my pumpkin sour cream pie! At long last! And he wants more!

Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie with Caramel Walnut Topping

This is going on my long list of things for which to be grateful this year. Right next to gratitude for all of you who drop by regularly to see what’s up in the OtherWorldly Kitchen.

May this Thanksgiving find you healthy, happy, and with those you hold most dear. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Sour Cream Piewith Caramel Walnut Topping, Sliced

Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie with Caramel Walnut Topping

This may very well be my best pumpkin pie creation ever. The creamy pumpkin custard with just a little tang from the sour cream, combined with the chewy, buttery, walnut laden caramel is just plain decadent. This is one Thanksgiving dessert that will not take a back seat to the turkey and all the trimmings.

Pie Crust
10½-inch diameter, 4- to 6-cup capacity, partially-baked, flakey pie crust

Pumpkin Sour Cream Filling
3 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (one 15-ounce can)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
½ cup packed dark brown sugar, put through a coarse sieve to remove lumps
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon cloves

Caramel Walnut Topping
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup cold water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup cream

2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups chopped walnuts

lightly sweetened whipped cream, optional

  1. Prepare the pie crust and let cool at room temperature.
  2. To make the Pumpkin Sour Cream Filling, in a large bowl, add the eggs and whisk until well blended. Add the pumpkin puree, cream, and sour cream, and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the brown sugar, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves, and whisk to incorporate.
  4. Pour the pumpkin mixture into a storage container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake, up to 2 days ahead. (The flavor is significantly improved if left overnight to mellow in the refrigerator.)
  5. Just before baking, whisk the pumpkin filling to incorporate the ingredients and then pour into the partially baked pastry shell.
  6. Bake on the middle rack of a preheated 425º oven for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350º, and continue baking for about 30 minutes, until pumpkin filling puffs at the edges and the center, while not puffed, appears almost set. (About 3-4 inches of the center diameter will look glossy compared to the edges, which will look more matt. The center should still move a little if shaken.)
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate.
  8. To make Caramel Walnut Topping, combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan (preferably deep and rather narrow, rather than shallow and wide) and set over medium-low heat.
  9. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the syrup clears. To prevent crystallization, do not rush this first step; use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down the sides of the saucepan.
  10. When the sugar is fully dissolved, raise the heat, bring the syrup to a boil, and stop stirring. Continue heating without stirring until the syrup turns a medium amber color.  (You could go darker, but a medium caramel is best for this pie.)
  11. Remove from the heat immediately and set in a larger pan of ice water to stop the cooking.
  12. Back on the stovetop, with no heat, carefully stir in the butter, keeping your distance, as the mixture will rise up and splatter.
  13. Now, over low heat, slowly add the cream and stir to smooth the caramel.
  14.  Raise the heat, stop stirring, and boil slowly until the caramel reaches a temperature of 228°.
  15. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Stir in the walnuts and let cool for 10 minutes.
  16.  Pour the still warm and slightly running caramel over the cold pi and let the caramel cool completely.
  17. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  18. 1f desired, serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Serves 8.

More LunaCafe Pumpkin Pies & Cheesecakes

Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)

Thanks for stopping by. Come back real soon.

Copyright 2013 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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  1. gypsybaker says

    Please, never stop experimenting…however, by FAR, this is the best pumpkin pie I have ever eatten. I cheated a bit & used a jar of carmel I purchased in Canada (such a lovely jar, I had to use the contents up just to have the jar to play with!)
    just heated it up and added the toasted walnuts…insanely good combination! I used to make a pecan & bourbon topping for pumpkin pie but friends kept saying it wasn’t really a pumpkin pie…so I began making a pumpkin roll that got great reviews…now, I will make this for myself if no one else. Glad you converted MauiJim!

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Thanks so much, gypsybaker! :-) I’m really looking forward to making and eating this pie again this year, even though I also have to come up with something new and equally wonderful. I agree, it’s going to be hard to top this pie.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Carmen, you are going to LOVE this pie. Hopping over to your blog to check out those lovely scones. Happy Thanksgiving! …Susan

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Whenever I specify “cream”, I mean regular whipping cream (30-36%butterfat). Heavy cream (36-40%) will also work.

  2. Susan S. Bradley says

    Sorry for the delay, Sue. I searched through a stack of testing notes and finally found the notes for this fantastic pie. Thank goodness! Otherwise, I would have had to reconstruct it. I corrected the recipe. This will definitely be on the Thanksgiving table this year. Enjoy!

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Sue, I’m in flight on the way to Portland from Boston. I hope my testing notes are in Portland. Will check on this snafu tomorrow. Thanks for catching the error. Much appreciated!

    • sms bradley says

      Thank you, pigpigs! The caramel topping really is amazing with the pumpkin custard. Not sure a plain pumpkin pie will do it for me anymore. :-)

  3. says

    This looks fantastic! I love pumpkin pie but it’s nice to liven it up a bit, just for a change.
    I have a fresh pumpkin I was hoping to bake soon, so I think I might use it for this recipe. The caramel and walnuts look so yummy….

    Our thanksgiving was almost 2 months ago (I’m in Canada), but I am glad to see so many new Thanksgiving recipes for new ideas and for next year :)
    Have a wonderful thanksgiving weekend!!

    • sms bradley says

      Thank you, Dana! I forget that Thanksgiving is at a different time in Canada. I should remember this though, as James’ parents lived on Birch Bay near the Canadian border for a couple of decades. I loved visiting them and then heading up to Vancouver for a day. The Granville Market!!!

  4. Patti says

    Mmmmmmm……I love, love, love, pumpkin pie and am usually the only one in my family who eats it – yay! More for me! Susan, your recipe reminds me of my favorite ppie recipe, almost the same caramel on top of a Kentucky Bourbon Pumpkin custard. My man will eat a bit, only because of the booze! Whatever it takes! Happy Thanksgiving

  5. says

    I rarely…no, never mess around with the pumpkin pie recipe. It is sacred! This however, really has me tempted! Looks delightful. Hope you are a success convincing MauiJim to have a bite!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Company Pot Roast =-.

    • sms bradley says

      LOL, Kate! Oh yes, I know about “sacred recipes.” It is only recently that I began to push on the sacred boundaries of the classic pumpkin pie, and really only because of that potluck where I had nothing else to bring. Now that the experimentation has begun though, I may never stop. :-)


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