A Pie, A Pie! My Kingdom for a Good Pumpkin Pie!
Oh, what a pie lady will do to answer a simple question: Where do I get the best pumpkin pies around NYC this Thanksgiving? It hasn’t been easy folks. Two pies a night, sometimes three, from downtown Brooklyn to southern Westchester, I’ve been pumpkin pie-ing myself silly. So much pie in the last month, by golly I’ve got pumpkin pie coming out of my ears. It’s a damn good thing I love it so much. I’ve hit as many places as a gal can hit and still have a functioning pancreas. Man, I’ve been to Pie Corps, Blue Stove, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Butter and Scotch, Eli Zabar’s, Two Little Red Hens, Little Pie Company, One Girl Cookies, What’s for Dessert, Magnolias, Bubby’s, Yura on Madison, Cutie Pies, Pies N Thighs, Pie Lady and Son, Dutch Desserts, City Bakery, and Hill Country Chicken among others. I can stair-step myself to the moon and I wouldn’t get all these extra pie pounds off. But it was all for a good cause. And since my surprise winner from last season- Pie Face, has gone and went Belly-Up on me (shedding tears while typing) it is time to crown a new pumpkin king, or at least the top few members of the royal family. Now, before I reveal the winners, I must say what makes a good pumpkin pie. For one, it can’t be too “pumpkiny”. If I wanted a mouthful of pure pumpkin I would walk up to a pumpkin patch and start gnawing on the vine. It’s a custard people, so you had better have a good amount of dairy and eggs in there. And don’t overdo it with the ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. If the pie is so super spiced-out that you can’t enjoy the sweet, you’ve got a problem. Now I don’t have a major issue with some texture in the filling but I do prefer it creamy as opposed to dense. And please folks, don’t neglect the crust.
So after three weeks of eating every single Pumpkin Pie I could get my hands on, the results are in. For classic Pumpkin pie, you won’t go wrong with Two Little Red Hens, Yura on Madison, Hill Country Chicken, and even Little Pie Company. All four are pretty close to each other in terms of balance of sweet and spice and texture of the filling. I prefer the crust of Two Little Red Hens over the other three and the crust of Hill Country Chicken over the other two. Two Little Red Hens and Yura on Madison may be fresher tasting than the other two and the Red Hens one is definitely creamier than the other three. But if you want to know which one is making a guest appearance on my Thanksgiving Day table. It’s none of those. My favorite pumpkin this season is not really a classic, it’s Bubby’s pumpkin pie with a pecan praline topping. Creamy and custardy it meets all the necessary requirements for good pumpkin pie. Even folks who are fans of sweet potato but not of pumpkin (who are these people anyway? Do they really even exist?) would go for this pie because it reminds more of the texture I usually encounter with sweet potato pie. The filling itself is not overly sweet and the caramel-like drizzle on top totally completes the package. The pecans add extra flavor and crunch but really the pie is great even without them. I just know I’m gonna put this pie out on the Thanksgiving table and then end up hogging it all to myself. Don’t laugh, I’ve done it before. Watch yourselves family, I’ve got a fork and I’m not afraid to use it. A girl’s gotta gorge herself on Harvest season pies while they’re around to eat. And isn’t that the true meaning of Thanksgiving anyway? No? Oh well. So if you’re in the NYC area and fancy waiting in line early one of these morning leading up to the big Turkey day, at least you have some yummy pumpkin options. Of course, you could always just make a pie yourself, but nah- let some else do all the work this Thanksgiving.