Pumpkin Black Sesame Pie

A top-down shot of a layered pumpkin and black sesame pie with two slices cut out; the top is covered in circles of pie crust and the word "yay" spelled in crust

Kitra: WELCOME BACK TO PIE MONTH

Jordan: *chanting* Pie Month! Pie Month! Pie Month!

*banging on clipboard* PIE PIE PIE PIE PIE

November is the month where we prepare for Thanksgiving by temporarily deposing Queen Cake in favor of Pie, the One True Ruler of Our Hearts.

Long may she reign! Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray!

You may remember Pie Month from last year, when we made this beautiful chai creme brulee pie.

Which I made again this year for my birthday and am currently restrained from making again right this second only by a dog on my foot and my lack of energy to wash literally a single dish this week.

But also, Kitra has pie in the house already because you know what time it is?

It’s PIE time we ate some pie. (Get it? Like high time? I say this to my self every time I cut a slice of pie and chuckle alone in my apartment, which is a great example of why I live alone.)

I apologize for setting Kitra up for that pun. It was unintentional.

Also there is often pie in my house. I love a hand pie in the freezer, or a quiche for dinners, or tarts, or a galette, or just eating crispy bits of dough in my kitchen standing over the stove and burning my fingers slightly.

You can understand why I saw Pieometry at my local bookstore and decided it would make a great birthday present for Kitra.

She didn’t even know it was a book I was aware of and intended to buy but had forgotten to add to my cookbook wishlist.

I’m often dubious of beautiful food. So often, an intricate topping on a dessert is there to hide the fact that the dessert itself is… fine? But in this case, I flipped through the recipes and wanted to eat every single one.

So I sat down and flagged with my cookbook sticky-tabs all the ones that sounded like potential fall pies.

And that led us here. Last year we made a pumpkin chocolate cheesecake, which looks kind of similar to this pie—multiple layers, pretty colors, creamy pumpkin deliciousness—but that’s about where the resemblance stops.

While that one is unreservedly indulgent, almost impossible to eat a whole slice of, and frankly takes a bit of work, this one is balanced in sweetness and comes together pretty easily (2 bowls, no real work other than making crust).

Pumpkin pies can be a little on the sweet side, but the black sesame gives the bottom layer a nice bitterness.

The seeds in the crust make it feel like a charming bagel crust, definitely not something that’s going to make you take a nap immediately, right?

To me the crust is kind of cracker-like, but same idea either way. But don’t worry, the pumpkin layer is sweet enough to balance it all out. (There is a full can of sweetened condensed milk in this recipe, after all.)

It’s creamy and smooth, soft and silky, and all the other platitudes you can imagine about pumpkin pie. But just less boring and better than most of them are.

You could serve it with whipped cream, but—unlike those other boring pumpkin pies—it really doesn’t need it, so you can instead decorate with cute pie crust shapes and letters celebrating mmm, nothing in particular I’m sure.

We certainly were not influenced in topping choices by the whooping and hollering that lasted all day on Saturday in DC, an air of collective joy unseen in years.

They must have known that it was Pie Month, I guess.

A layered pumpkin and black sesame pie with one slice cut out; the top is covered in circles of pie crust and the word "yay" spelled in crust

Black Sesame Pumpkin Pie

Adapted slightly from Pieometry by Lauren Ko

Notes

If you can find store-bought black tahini—Kevala is the most common brand—then definitely use it here. We couldn’t, so made our own in a food processor. It’s a little thicker and grainier, but it didn’t seem to make a textural difference in the pie. You can also use regular tahini, though the flavor will be slightly different.

Our only real adaptations here were to the crust; we used Kitra’s go-to crust (recipe at the end of the chai creme brulee pie post) instead of Ko’s and modified the parbaking times/temperature. If you want to have extra crust for decoration, feel free to make a larger batch of crust, but you only really need a single crust. Add 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds to the flour/butter before you add the water.

Ingredients

  • 1 unbaked sesame pie crust (see note)
  • 1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (60g) black tahini (see note)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Roll out the pie crust and lay it in a standard pie plate. Trim and crimp the edges, if you so choose, then use a fork to make tiny holes all over the bottom and sides of the crust so it doesn’t bubble up. Put a piece of parchment paper over the crust and fill with pie weights (Kitra uses dried beans; Jordan uses sugar). Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment and return to oven for another 7 minutes. It should be fairly opaque when you take it out. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

Once the pie crust is out, lower the oven temperature to 350°.

In a medium bowl—you can just wipe out the bowl you used for your pie crust if you like—whisk together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Transfer 1 cup (260g) of the pumpkin mixture to a smaller bowl and whisk in the black tahini. Pour the pumpkin/tahini mix into the baked pie crust and spread it so that it covers the bottom. Gently pour the remaining pumpkin mixture over top of the tahini layer.

Carefully wrap a few strips of aluminum foil around the edges of the pie crust so that they don’t burn. Return the pie to the baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10 or so minutes, until the center jiggles just slightly when you shake the pan. Remove and cool fully before slicing and serving.

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