Today is the DAY! Not Thanksgiving day, fortunately as I still have a to-do list that’s long enough to drag on the floor as I frantically flit from task to task, but the day in which I reveal to the world the winner of my highly subjective taste test for best Pumpkin Pie.
Let’s review and discuss….
Contestant # 1: Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie
Texture: Libby’s produced one of the best textures of the bunch: a firm custard that was also soft and moist.
Appearance: The appearance scored on the lower side, primarily because I had a bit of an issue with the milk separating from the pumpkin that was, in all honestly, probably my fault for not mixing properly. Nevertheless it was nothing a little strategically placed whipped cream couldn’t cover up.
Difficulty: Easy, one-bowl
Tasting Notes: “Soft”, “creamy” and “balanced”.
Contestant # 2: Better Homes and Garden Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Texture: Sets up very firm, slices like a dream due to the gelatin.
Appearance: This pie scored the highest for appearance. I love the way the pumpkin mixture stayed bright orange (because it’s not baked). It was picture perfect, or I guess as the kids say, v instagrammable.
Difficulty: Since this pie requires a blind-baked crust and an egg separating method in which the yolks are heated on the stove with the other ingredients then the whipped whites are folded back in, I would say it veers toward intermediate level. It’s really not hard but it’s 3 bowls to wash so….
Tasting Notes: “Very sweet,” “mousse-y,” “light,” “slightly weird aftertaste possibly due to gelatin.”
Contestant #3: Ina Garten’s Ultimate Pumpkin Pie
Texture: The wettest and least firm of the bunch (is that redundant? I warned you this is not scientific).
Appearance: A very traditional-looking beauty.
Difficulty: Easy, one-bowl
Tasting Notes: “Citrus-y,” “wet,” “not very pumpkin-y.”
Contestant #4: The Joy of Cooking’s Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie
Texture: The driest of the bunch, set up very firm.
Appearance: This pie didn’t have that glossy top that pumpkin pies usually have. It kind of had more of a matte finish and there was cracking around the outer edge close to the crust.
Difficulty: Intermediate again, due to its method of whipping whites separately than folding back into warm custard. More clean up, but doable.
Tasting Notes: “Sweet,” “drier, but good,” “tangy.”
And the winner is…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
That old classic, Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie, evidently famous for a reason. I have to admit that, at first, I was a little disappointed as the verdict seemed a little anticlimactic. This is the pie that I make every year, but in the past, only on the principle that it was very easy (let’s have a moment of appreciation for back-of-the-can/box/tin recipes). It tasted good and everybody seemed to like it but I had to know for sure, hence this test. So what turned into slight disappointment quickly morphed into a really good feeling of validation because, at the very least, now I have a reason for making this one. It won. I like the way it tastes better than the others.
In every other pie I tested, critiques popped into my head right away– “too citrusy,” “too sweet,” “too dry,” “too wet,” but when tasting Libby’s nothing jumped out. The pumpkin, milk, and spices all complement each other harmoniously so that you don’t think about the flavors you’re eating, only how good it is. Like I said, famous for a reason.