Since moving to Maui, Thanksgiving always seems to sneak up on me without warning. It doesn’t feel like fall here, at least not in the traditional sense. The temperature has only dropped a couple degrees, the leaves on the trees are as green as they always are, flip-flops are still my footwear of choice, and my scarfs remain crammed in the back of my closet, patiently waiting for a trip to the mainland. Without fireplaces and foggy breath on cold nights, holiday meals tend to feel as out of place as sneakers at the beach—it can be done, but it just seems a little awkward. So this year I decided to experiment with giving my pumpkin pie a bit of Hawaiian-style flare, making this classic autumn dessert seem not so out of place among 80 degree weather. A streusel topping with hand harvested macadamia nuts and ginger give this pumpkin pie good reason to belong on a Hawaiian Thanksgiving menu.
My dear friend lives on an old macadamia nut plantation, trees scattered throughout the seven acre parcel of land. The nuts are no longer harvested on a large scale, the trees left to their own devices years before my friend moved onto the property. Ancient abandoned macadamia machinery and large rusted weighing scales lend a nostalgic feeling to the land, hinting at a time long past when Hawaii was the largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world. But lucky for us, there are still more than enough macadamia nuts if you care to collect them.
First, the macadamia nuts that have fallen to the ground must be gathered, then dried until their green outer husk turns brown and splits. After the husk is removed, a shiny brown shell still encases the macadamia nut, and is very hard to break open. Experience has taught me that a mere walnut cracker will do absolutely nothing in this case. I’ve found that smacking them with a rock works to an extent, but if you hit with just a little too much force, the nut splinters into oblivion, sharp macadamia shell shrapnel flying in every direction. The solution? Fortunately, my friend owns a handy-dandy heavy-duty contraption specifically designed for mac nuts. Cracking them open one by one is a lot slower than buying them at the store, but the process led to more appreciation and gratitude for having harvested them myself—sentiments that are on my mind more often this time of year.
Adding ginger to the streusel was a no-brainer for me. Ginger is a favorite spice of mine, which also happens to lend itself perfectly to tropical flavors, so I can’t help but use it often (In fact, my last three recipe posts all contained ginger!). And because pumpkin pie spices traditionally include ginger already, adding a little more to the streusel only serves to compliment the pie.
The pumpkin pie itself is a classic version, creamy and smooth, with plenty of warming spices. The macadamia nuts in the streusel adds a buttery crunch to the pie, while the ginger makes the topping slightly reminiscent of ginger snap cookies. All I can say is, “Yum.” From now on—or at least for as long as I live in Hawaii—this will be my new go-to pumpkin pie recipe.
Pumpkin Pie with Macadamia Nut Ginger Streusel
Recipe inspired by Bon Appétit
Notes: If you're not gluten free, you may substitute a more traditional pie crust, and swap out the tapioca and sorghum flours for regular white flour.
Yields 1 pie, 8 servings
1 gluten-free uncooked pie dough, fitted to a 9-inch pie plate (my favorite is Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (from one 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Macadamia Nut Ginger Streusel
3/4 cup raw unsalted macadamia nuts
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs.
Add sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt, and whisk to combine.
Stir in the pumpkin puree until smooth.
Stir in the heavy whipping cream until fully combined.
Pour filling into the prepared pie crust.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375. Continue cooking for 30-35 minutes, or until almost done (a knife or toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge should come out clean, but the center should still be jiggly).
While the pie is baking, make the Macadamia Nut Ginger Streusel. Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the macadamia nuts, frequently shaking the pan gently back and forth to move the nuts around and ensure they don’t burn, 3-5 minutes, or until the nuts begin to turn slightly golden. Allow to cool, then chop and add to a small bowl. Mix in 1/4 cup sorghum flour, tapioca flour, brown sugar, butter, ground ginger and fresh ginger until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle in the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sorghum flour, and toss just until it evenly coats the mixture. Set aside.
Remove pie from oven and sprinkle Macadamia Nut Ginger Streusel evenly over the top.
Place back in the oven and continue baking until the streusel turns a light golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
Allow pie to cool on rack completely until room temperature.
Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cool (this is how I prefer it)