Pumpkin Praline Pie

The winning recipe is Pumpkin Praline Pie by Beth Ann Woodward from Spring, Texas.

Ingredients for crust:

Either *homemade (see below) or store-bought refrigerated crust (Beth prefers Pillsbury)

Ingredients for praline layer:

1/2 cup pecan pieces 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 3 tbsp. softened butter

Ingredients for pumpkin filling:

2 large eggs 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1 cup canned pumpkin 1 tbsp all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp ground cloves 1/4 tsp ground mace 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup evaporated milk

Ingredients and directions for *homemade crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 1/2 tsp salt 1/3 cup and 1 tbsp shortening - or - 1/3 cup and 1 tbsp. lard 2 to 2 1/2 tbsp. ice water (add the extra 1/2 tbsp if it is too dry)

1. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F. and use a 9-inch deep dish-glass pie plate. (**If using a metal pie pan, increase temperature to 400 degrees.)

2. With pastry blender, cut shortening into dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. (It will look like cornmeal. Add ice water (it must be very cold) one tablespoon at a time, tossing lightly. Dough should be just moist enough to hold together in a ball. Make sure it is not sticky. Form into ball and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Place dough on lightly floured surface and flatten slightly. Roll into 10-inch circle, rolling from the center out. Lay the crust gently into 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate. Press into pan and crimp edges decoratively.

Directions for praline layer and filling:

1. In food processor, add pecan pieces, dark brown sugar, and butter. Process until ingredients hold together like a paste, making sure the pecans are a fine “meal.” Press very firmly into bottom only of the pie crust so it will not float up during baking.

2. In mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy with hand-mixer or standing mixer. Then with mixer on low, or stirring by hand, add in order the rest of the ingredients. Beat only until well mixed. Pour slowly into praline lined crust.

3. Bake in oven checking after 45 minutes. Cover edges of crust to prevent oven browning. Pie is done when filling is set but still slightly jiggly in center. Depending on oven 45-55 minutes total. Remove from oven and let cool on counter until room temperature. Chill in refrigerator.

4. Garnish with whipped cream and caramelized pecans, if desired. (*see recipe for caramelized pecans below) Cut pie into eight servings and garnish each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and 2 caramelized pecan halves.

Optional: caramelized pecans:

16 nice pecan halves 3 tbsp white granulated sugar

1. In a non-stick skillet, add pecan halves and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until sugar melts and begins to caramelize.

2. When pecans are nicely coated, remove from heat and cool.

Servings: 8

c. 2000 Beth Ann Woodward of Spring, Texas