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This Thanksgiving, spice up the dessert table with NYC-based chef Hong Thaimee's Thai twist on pumpkin pie. It's still sweet, but also a little savory with a touch of heat. The Thaimee Love restaurant owner adds red curry paste to the filling and whipped cream and tops the pie with candied Thai basil leaves. As Rach says, "I'm in!"
"When I was first here as an exchange student, they always taught us that America was a melting pot of cultures and that made me think about how I could infuse my flavors into classic American dishes. Pumpkin and red curry is a common combination in Thailand, so I was like, 'Why not?' I always want to share Thai flavors with people and introduce them to it, so this is a good way!" —Hong
Note: The candied basil needs at least two hours to dry. It can be made a day ahead.
For more pumpkin sweets, check out Daphne Oz's Pumpkin Bars with Pecan Streusel and Pumpkin Pudding.
For the candied Thai basil, use a brush to wet both sides of each basil leaf with egg white. Sprinkle with sugar to cover each leaf evenly. As each leaf is coated, set it on a wire rack to dry for at least 2 hours or overnight.
For the crust, in a large bowl, lightly rub the flour and butter between your fingertips until you have a loose, sandy texture with pea-size lumps. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk and stir gently to form a loose ball, adding up to another tablespoon of milk, if needed.
Turn the ball onto a lightly floured work surface, divide it in half and gently form it into two equal flat rounds. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
For the filling, set a steamer insert in a medium saucepan filled with a couple inches of water (just enough to steam the pumpkin, but not come directly into contact with it). Place the pumpkin in the insert, bring the water to a simmer and steam until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
In a blender, combine the cooled pumpkin, eggs, palm sugar, granulated sugar, curry paste, coconut milk and a pinch of salt and blend until the consistency resembles baby food.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into two 12-inch circles. Place one circle in a 9- or 10-inch pie plate, lightly pressing the dough into the dish. Trim the excess, leaving about a ¼-inch overhang. Fold the overhanging dough under itself, then lightly press it down. Using a 1 ½-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts from the second circle and set them aside.
Pour the filling into the crust, then place the dough hearts around the crust in whatever fashion you like. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until a thin-bladed knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, cover the crust with a strip of aluminum foil.
Remove the pie from the oven, place on a wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
While the pie is cooling, make the red curry whipped cream. By hand or using a stand mixer, whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold in the red curry paste with a spatula, taking care not to deflate the whipped cream.
To serve, slice the pie and serve with dollops of red curry cream and candied Thai basil.