This is another “trousseau” recipe, found in the loose-leaf recipe notebook I created before I was married. I will say at the outset that it is a ridiculously impractical recipe because it calls for a quantity of evaporated milk that is more than a 5-ounce can but less than a 12-ounce one. Fortunately, my husband can use the leftover milk in his tea, and I continue to make this recipe a couple of times a year (Thanksgiving and Christmas) because it’s “traditional.” There are recipes online that have the same name, but none is identical. Interestingly, I have not found another pumpkin pie recipe that includes nutmeg.
Honey Pumpkin Pie
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup strained honey
2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
Mix sugar, salt, and spices. Stir in honey and pumpkin. Heat milk and add with eggs. Beat well. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes; lower heat to 375° for 35 minutes.
For what it’s worth, this is an easy recipe to double; my daughter has even been known to make four of these at once. I love it because mixing requires no more than a whisk, and I traditionally make our Christmas pie(s) while listening to the NPR broadcast of the “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” from King’s College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve.
A few notes:
- I have no idea of the purpose of heating the milk; my mother suggested perhaps this was to give the eggs a head start on setting. I usually do it in the microwave in a glass measure with a microwave thermometer, till just before it comes to a boil.
- Although I usually grate my own nutmeg (and the quantity is thus approximate), I’m no purist: I use a prefab Pillsbury pie crust. The pan shown is one of a pair I inherited from my mother; they make a pretty crust really easy!
- I’ve made this with both Carnation and store-brand evaporated milk, both high-test and low-fat (maybe even fat-free), and I’ve never had a result that was less than delicious.
- I serve it with a spritz of Reddi-Wip and really prefer the consistency of the filling when it’s chilled, but I hate to refrigerate the pie immediately because the crust gets a bit soggy. Of course, if you serve it all at once, to a crowd, that is not an issue!
Obviously, the distinctive feature of this pie is in the name. I can’t swear that the honey makes it any better than a pie made from the recipe on the Libby’s can, but I love it, and it’s a family tradition.
The past few years, the honey I’ve used has made it more distinctive than usual. My father was an enthusiastic supporter of libertarian and conservative causes, and one of these was Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute. Apparently Dad was a significant donor, and every Christmas he received a pint jar of “Morton’s Virginia Honey.” I don’t now recall whether I received my supply one jar at a time after Mother’s death in 2002 or (more likely) inherited the entire stash upon Dad’s death in 2007, but I once had half a dozen jars dated 2001–2006. I’ve been working my way backward and am now using the 2001 one. It is of course well known that honey does not spoil (in fact, it is a preservative), and, unlike store-bought honey, this honey never crystallizes. It turns black as tar and perhaps a little bitter, but that just gives the pie more character, and it remains easy to pour and measure. I’ll actually be sorry when I use up this last jar.
I recently learned that this recipe is over 70 years old. I’ve been reading my Mother’s letters to her mother and am currently reading the letters of 1946. In a letter written on Thanksgiving Day (November 27), she mentions that she served a pumpkin pie made from a recipe in a Crisco ad. On December 8, she reports having made the recipe again, to serve at a bridge party, and wrote, “I think that Crisco recipe for Honey Pumpkin Pie is the best I’ve ever tried, and their pastry is delicious.” I’ve never made my own pastry, with Crisco or any other shortening, but I agree that the pie is delicious.