Pumpkin Pie with Pizzazz

Let the kids be the bakers this Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie never tasted so good!

By Barbara Albright

 For most of us -- kids included -- Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.

Kids like the idea that the Halloween jack o' lantern has a role in the November holiday (although it comes already pureed and in a can!). Everyone loves the spicy aroma that perfumes the air as the pie bakes.

Pumpkins and other squashes were mainstays of the Native American diet; pies were beloved by the English settlers. The traditional dessert represents the coming together of these two populations and as such has an honored place on our tables.

Easy As Pie!
Pumpkin pie is one of the easiest to make. The filling is a simple custard with some of the milk or cream replaced with pureed pumpkin. Open a can, add eggs, milk or cream, and spices and stir. Kids love it!

Unless you want to, don't fuss with homemade pie crust. The kids will have better luck and just as much fun with store-bought frozen pie crust.

The Pizzazz
Decorate the crust or the top of the pie with leaves, stars, or other shapes. Arm the kids with cookie cutters and let them cut these from scraps of dough.

Buy an extra pie crust or one with enough dough for a double-crust pie - this way there will be ample dough for cut-outs.

Arrange the cut-outs around the edge of the pie or place them in the center. Adhere them to the edge of the bottom crust with an egg wash (a beaten egg mixed with a little water). Brush the cut-outs with more egg wash for a shiny finish.

Check the pie partway through baking. If the crust or cut-outs are getting too brown, cover them with a ring of aluminum foil or pieces of foil.

Little Pies for Little People
Cut the dough into small rounds or rectangles and press it into tartlet pans. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into these and bake tiny pies - sure to charm the children. Watch these carefully as they bake; they require less time than a large pie.

For the following recipe, you will be able to make four to eight mini pumpkin tarts, depending on the size of the tart pans.

Finally, serve the pumpkin pie with whipped cream or ice cream. Look around the table at the proud, happy faces of the young bakers. Now that's something to be thankful for!