Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America over 7,500 years ago. The first pumpkins held very little resemblance to the sweet, bright orange variety we are familiar with. Apparently there are over 50 different varieties of pumpkins out there and some are better than others. The use of fresh pumpkin for sweets remain optional. However, it is justified when making pies. One of the best pumpkins for pies are Sugar Pie Pumpkin and Honeynut Squash. Always roast more pumpkin than you need – leftovers pumpkin meat is great for side dishes, soup and smoothies. It can also be stored in the freezer for later uses.
Blend bake tart shell for 20 minutes – remove pie weights and bake for 10 minutes more. Set aside. Tart shell can be made a couple days ahead if desired.
Always roast more pumpkin than you need. Carefully, cut pumpkin and butternut lengthwise, scrap out fibers along with seeds (save seeds). Line baking tray with silicone mat, and grease it with the oil and sprinkle sugar over and a pinch of salt. Place squash flesh side down. Roast for an hour or so at 410ºF/210ºC. Half way through, move around pumpkins and rotate. Let cool 20 minutes and scrape out meat from the skin and discard skins. In a small saucepan, cover pumpkin kernels with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and let sit for a bit. Sieve and remove any remaining fibres. Spread seeds over a baking tray. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it turns light brown.
In the food processor, puree pumpkin meat. Transfer to a frying pan and cook down pumpkin puree with spices, sugars and maple syrup for about 20 minutes stirring every so often. The mixture should turn into a flavorful 400g pumpkin mixture. Let cool prior to finish into a compound.
In the food processor, smooth out cooked pumpkin mixture with the fresh roasted pumpkin (150g). Add mascarpone and the eggs; mix until completely smooth.
Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Fill pre-baked tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350ºF/180ºC and bake for 45 minutes more. If using fan oven, lower oven temperature to 400ºF/200ºC and then 325ºF/160ºC. Pie is ready when it just begins to crack. There should be a slight jiggle to the center. Let cool for 20 minutes and de-mold pie carefully over a cooling rack. Leave out for 2 hours to cool completely and chill for an hour or more before finishing.
In a medium size frying pan, turn sugar into a light amber caramel. Stir in kernels and seeds, and add alcohol – flambé. Add butter into the mixture. Transfer spread brittle mixture onto a baking mat; let cool completely. Break into pieces and keep in a sealed container.
Soak gelatin in cold water to soften, drain and set aside. Make a ganache montée. Bring to a boil the heavy cream (200g) with all the spices, turn off the heat and let infuse for 20 minutes. Sieve over white chocolate and mix well. Add gelatin, mascarpone and the chilled heavy cream (100g). Blend well and refrigerate for a least 6 hours or best overnight. Make a day ahead if preferred.
Beat ganache montée to a medium soft peaks Chantilly on medium speed.
Cover pumpkin pie with a thin layer of Chantilly, then cut pie into 8 portions. Make an elegant Chantilly finish using a pastry bag fitted with a Saint Honoré pastry tip. Save leftover Chantilly for later use. Decorate pie with a cinnamon stick broken into thin pieces. Top with pumpkin seeds brittles and serve. Pumpkin pie can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days. Avoid freezer. Enjoy!