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Easy as pie: The holidays might be difficult. This recipe isn’t

Ari LeVaux
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Aledo Times Record

The message of Thanksgiving is rooted in a story about a diverse group of people cooperating with one another in order to survive the winter. Now, 399 years after the first feast, we’re facing another crisis. And this time, instead of getting together to cooperate, we all need to work together by staying apart.

Just as I love Thanksgiving but don’t want to help spread COVID-19, I love pumpkin pie but don’t want to make crust. So I’ll be seeking some kind of normalcy by celebrating No. 399 the way I always do, by looking for ways to make pumpkin pie, but not make an official pastry crust.

Other years, I’ve made pumpkin pudding and pots de creme. I’ve baked pumpkin pie filling inside squash on the half-shell. This year, I’ll be making Oreo Crusted Pumpkin Pie.

Chocolate and pumpkin pie make a great combination, and Oreo is a special kind of chocolate. It has an almost burnt, sugary charcoal flavor that adds lovely bass notes for the pie spices to dance upon.

And just as importantly, after it’s been atomized in the blender, the Stuf in between the cookies is really good at holding the crust together as you form it into place. And when heated, the Stuf melts, oiling the pan below and permeating the crust, eventually gluing it all together when it cools. I prefer the Dark Chocolate Oreo product, which has chocolate Stuf.

And if you want to absolutely maximize the chocolate in your pumpkin pie — or more accurately, around your pumpkin pie — you can sprinkle more Oreo powder on top, either as an artistic flourish or a solid fudge cap. You can also use unbroken Oreos, simply pulled in half, as both crust and topping.

The bottom line is, none of these Oreo techniques requires a rolling pin, or leaves your kitchen dusted with flour.

When it’s safe to gather, you and this pie will be ruling the potluck. But this year, you may have to eat that pie alone. Or on Zoom. So that next year we can go back to arguing about politics around the table in person, like normal.

Black Belt Pie

When you make a pumpkin pie with an Oreo crust, you probably shouldn’t sweeten the filling, because the Oreos have so much sugar. Ounce for ounce, winter squash has more sugar than canned “pumpkin” (which is actually canned winter squash). So it needs less sweetener.

Makes 1 pie

• 1 package Oreos (preferably Dark Chocolate), about 36 cookies

• 1 15-ounce can pumpkin (or 2 cups baked winter squash flesh)

• 2 eggs

• 1 tablespoon oil

• 1 cup heavy cream

• ½ teaspoon salt

• 1 tablespoon pie spices

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425.

Reserve six Oreos for garnish or emergencies, and blend the rest in a blender. Pour half of the resulting Oreo dust into a pie pan, and put it in the hot oven for five minutes. Remove the pan and carefully push the crumbled Oreo into the bottom and up the edges, as evenly as you can, using the back of a spoon to press and burnish it.

Crack two eggs in a bowl without breaking the yolks. Carefully spoon out a tablespoon of white and dump it into the Oreo pie crust. Use your fingers or a brush to gently spread the egg white all over the crust, and put it back in the oven for seven minutes.

Meanwhile, put the pumpkin or cooled winter squash in a blender. Add the eggs, vanilla, oil, cream, salt and pie spices, and blend until smooth. (If using fresh squash it may be a bit thicker, so be prepared to add ½ cup of milk or water.)

Pour the filling into your Oreo crust, and sprinkle the remaining Oreo dust on top. You can go with a token amount for color, or layer it as thick on top as it is on the bottom. A thick top crust results in a pie that looks like a hockey puck on the outside, while inside hides a bright, creamy pumpkin filling.

If you choose not to go with a thick chocolate top, go around the edge and push down on any crust that is sticking above the surface of the filling.

Cover the pie with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven to 350 and remove the foil. Bake for another 45 minutes. Remove the pie and allow it to cool for two hours.