No-Bake Pumpkin Pie with Brown Butter Graham Cracker Crust

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and though I like turkey and stuffing, it’s pumpkin pie I crave. The classic baked burnt-orange pumpkin pie isn’t what I grew up eating. No, the pie I crave is a modestly spiced, creamy, no-bake, marshmallow pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust. My mom made this every year and I always loved it but for some reason hadn’t made it myself. I decided to give it a try (with my own spin of course!) and was not disappointed.

No-bake pumpkin pie recipes are prolific on the internet and for good reason. First off, because they aren’t baked, there isn’t any worry about unseemly cracks on the top of the pie. Another plus? The no-bake version leaves my oven free to use for other Thanksgiving dishes.

The original version uses a premade graham cracker crust and Cool Whip. I wanted to up the flavor in the crust by making a homemade version with brown butter. For the pumpkin filling, I replaced the Cool Whip with freshly whipped cream. These simply changes amped up the flavor without over complicating an easy-as-can-be pie. 

There are a few tips to note regarding this pie: be sure to chill for at least four hours or overnight before serving. You’ll be able to tell that the pie is set by pressing on the center. It should be firm to the touch. Another tip for this pie is to make sure to choose the right size pie plate. The crust recipe makes enough for a 9-inch pie with 1-inch sides. A taller sided or larger pie pan will need extra crust and filling. I would 1.5x the recipe for a different sized pie.

The end result is a perfectly creamy pumpkin pie to remember for years to come.

What is Brown Butter?

Brown butter is when the butter solids are browned, usually in a saucepan over low heat.(surprising, I know! It imparts a nutty flavor that compliments the warm spices in the pumpkin filling.

Tips for Making a Graham Cracker Crust

I’ve made my share of crumbly graham cracker crusts and have learned a thing or two along the way. The main mistake is to not add enough butter. It should pack like wet sand and not be crumbly when pressing into the pan. Thankfully it’s an easy fix. Just add more butter! The other tip is to spray the pie tin to help the crust not stick. Lastly, I like to bake my graham crusts, though you don’t have to, I like how it ensues a firm crust and helps fend off moisture.

I used these adorable dish covers throughout the whole process (thanks Halo!) 

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

Graham Crust:

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 190g Graham cracker crumbs (12 sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Pumpkin Filling

  • 1 cup (244g) pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 ounces marshmallows
  • 1½ cup (4 ounces) heavy whipping cream, divided

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown butter: Melt butter in a small saucepan set on medium heat and stir often. Once melted, simmer the butter until the butter solids are brown on the bottom of the pan. The butter foams and then the butter solids will brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small glass measuring cup to cool.

Crust directions: Heat oven to 350℉. Break graham crackers into the bowl of the food processor and process until fine crumbs, about 15 seconds. Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Drizzle most of the brown butter into the food processor while it’s running and thoroughly mix. Stop the processor and use a flexible spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and then squeeze the mixture and see if it holds together. If not, then add another tablespoon or two of the brown butter and pulse again. The graham mixture should look like wet sand.

Spray a 9 inch pie tin with cooking spray. Remove the blade from the food processor and take handfuls of graham mixture and press it into the pie pan. I find it helpful to start with the sides and work my way around the pan and then finish with the bottom. Press using steady, gentle pressure until the pan is covered evenly. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is golden brown throughout and firm to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.

Pumpkin filling directions: In a medium saucepan, whisk the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add marshmallows and cook, stirring often, on low until the marshmallows are melted. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to whip ½ cup heavy cream to stiff peaks, about one minute.

Assemble pie: Fold whipped cream into cooled pumpkin mixture. Fold until the mixture is homogeneous. Scrape filling into the cooled graham crust and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. Press the center of the pie to make sure it is firm to the touch before removing from the refrigerator and serving. 


Finish and serve: Use a hand mixer and whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to stiff peaks.

Cut pie into 8 slices. For the cleanest cuts, cut while the pie is cold and wipe off knife in-between each cut. Serve pie either at room temperature or chilled alongside a spoonful of whipped cream. Leftovers will keep for 3 days if well-wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.

Simple Mini Frittatas

I grew up liking eggs in all its forms: fried, scrambled or hard boiled. I like quiches, omelets, egg salads and deviled eggs. Doesn’t everyone? Apparently not. Neither my husband nor children liked eggs enough to actually eat them. Yet, recently eggs have become a regular feature of our weekend breakfast routine. How did this miracle occur? I wish I could take the credit (ok, I’ll take a little credit) but mostly it’s thanks to the kind people at Hilton.

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A couple times a year we pack our bags and leave our little enclave in PNW. More often than not, we stay at a hotel. For some reason the “no eggs” policy went by the wayside as we hustled down to the hotel breakfast buffet. Maybe it was the close proximity to the bacon and pancakes, but whatever the reason, eggs became one of those dependable foods that could be counted on no matter which city we were in. We ate breakfast egg and cheese sandwiches in NYC, mini omelets in LA and we shoveled down softly scrambled eggs in Paris. It seems that they can’t get enough home or away. Eggs are requested all.the.time.

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Now back home when the breakfast buffet isn’t an option. What to do? My solution? These mini frittatas. I honestly don’t quite remember where I found the beginnings of this recipe on the World Wide Web but I think the original version had more veggies and perhaps bacon. Through pure laziness, empty produce drawers and a need for these to resemble the simple egg dishes we’ve eaten over the years, I simplified.

I’ve also found that these mini frittatas freeze incredibly well. Just cool completely before placing in the freezer. Microwave for 30-45 seconds to rewarm. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Quick Cheesy Mini Frittatas

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Directions:

Liberally spray a regular sized muffin pan with cooking spray. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, cheese, and green onions until well combined.

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Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to fill the muffin cavities 2/3 full.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the eggs are puffed and firm on the top. Let cool slightly (the frittatas will deflate) and take a small spatula to remove them from the muffin tin.

Serve or let cool completely and store in an air tight container for up to 3 days. Reheat for 20 seconds in a microwave.

Spiced Applesauce

Raise your hand if you delighted in watching September walk out the door and October walk in. The tenth month is one of my utmost favorites of the year! Tart, crunchy apples piled high.  “New Crop” and “Local” signs calling my name at each turn. I like apples every which way. I eat them in my oatmeal for breakfast or spread with peanut butter for a snack. Last night’s dinner was a rendition of this sheet pan concoction that included bratwurst, brussel sprouts, potatoes and apples. My post dinner treat? Crisp, fresh apple cider served piping hot. Yet, one of my all time favorite ways to enjoy the season is by making applesauce. The apple chunks simmer just long enough to relax into a softer, slightly sweeter version of themselves. Adding a few spices to the pot round out the flavors and remind us that this applesauce is something all together different than the runny, bland variety.

Another reason I love October? My husband and I commemorate another year married. We gave up exchanging gifts or cards years ago but still take ourselves out for some delicious food and drinks. A quick search online informs me that the traditional gift to celebrate 18 years is porcelain. Surprisingly, toilets were NOT on any gift suggestion lists. Ha!

Also, I’m happy to say that my preschool cooking class is up and going again now that fall has begun. Last week we made this spiced applesauce in class. I know that applesauce doesn’t really need a “recipe”. The whole process in its simplest form is:

  1. Cut apples
  2. Add water
  3. Add seasoning
  4. Cook on medium until tender
  5. Mash

Yet, if I walked up to my 12 year old and gave him those directions – he would look at me with the most bewildered of expressions and (understandably) have a million questions. Though making applesauce is quite simple, if you want a walk through – I’m your girl.

Ready to get started?

Spiced Applesauce

Using fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick and star anise, this applesauce is lightly spiced and reminiscent of chai seasoning. Three pounds of apples creates a hearty 3-4 cups of applesauce. We ate it for most of a week. I like to check the bulk section for cinnamon sticks and star anise. This enables me to purchase exactly the amount needed and have the freshest products at a much lower price. Score!

Supplies:

Colander, cutting board, vegetable peeler, knife, bowl for compost, medium-sized stock pot (mine is 4 quarts), large spoon for stirring(I used a wooden one), liquid measuring cup, tablespoon, slotted spoon, medium bowl, potato masher

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds apples (I prefer honeycrisp)
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Steps:

Start with washing hands. Safe food handling is really important.

Prepare Apples:

  1. Put apples in a colander.
  2. Put the colander in a sink and run cold water over the apples to rinse off dirt.
  3. Transfer apples to cutting board.

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Cut & Peel Apples:

  1. Hold the apple firmly in one hand and the peeler in the other.
  2. Work the peeler around the apple, being sure to keep fingers out of harms way. I like to leave a little peel on each apple to add to the pretty color and chunky texture of the finished product.
  3. Set peeled apple on the cutting board and de-core by slicing the apple into quarters, leaving behind the stem and seeds.
  4. Chop each apple section into quarters.
  5. Put apple pieces into pot.
  6. Dispose of peels and core

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Prepare Ginger & Add Spices

  1. Cut a 2 inch knob off a large piece of ginger. The ginger should be firm and cream colored on the inside (not greenish).
  2. Slice the skin off with either the peeler or knife.
  3. Add ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise and kosher salt to the pot with apples.

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Add Water & Sugar

  1. Using a liquid measuring cup, fill with 1 1/2 cups of water. The most accurate way to measure liquids is to set the measuring cup on the counter and then crouch down to view it at eye level.
  2. Pour water into the pot
  3. Scoop three tablespoons of sugar into the pot with the apples, spices and water.
  4. Stir to combine.

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Bring to a Simmer & Cook

  1. Turn the burner onto medium and bring the mixture to a simmer. The liquid won’t cover the apples and that is ok.
  2. Once the liquid is bubbling, stir occasionally so that the apples at the top move to the bottom for even cooking.
  3. As the apples cook, they will turn opaque and soften. Keep going until it mushes easily with a fork; 15-20 minutes.IMG_1507

Strain & Mash

  1. Transfer apples using a slotted spoon, to a small mixing bowl. The one pictured is an XXL cereal bowl. Make sure that the ginger, cinnamon stick and star anise are removed and discarded. Keep liquid leftover from straining.
  2. Let cool for 5 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash into chunky applesauce.
  3. Taste! Add back in leftover apple liquid for a stronger spiced flavor or thinner consistency. I added a 1/4 cup liquid back into my applesauce, but there is no wrong answer here. IMG_1509

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Serve

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  1. Lots of options here! Spoon into ramekins and serve warm or cover and transfer to the refrigerator and serve cold. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 10 days.