Other than peach season, my family mainly pulls their pie plates off the dusty kitchen shelves for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mom always mixes up her traditional pecan pie—and includes twice as many nuts as the original Betty Crocker recipe requires—because both feasts feel incomplete without it, but she generously grants me the liberty to play with the pumpkin.
I strictly followed the back of the classic can of Libby’s until 2 years ago when I branched out and dressed up the dessert as a layered chocolate pumpkin pie with a gingersnap crust. A little adventurous again last year, I tried another blogger’s crustless version, and after receiving high praise, I decided to create my own version for last month’s Thanksgiving.
But distracted by too many other Thanksgiving treats, I ran out of time to test my recipe until the night before the feast. With baited breath and crossed fingers, I licked the spatula (yum!), watched the clock, and pulled my pie out of the oven after the top set. Despite the little crack in its surface, it looked like a stereotypical pumpkin pie—firm, glossy, and dark orange—so I nestled it into the backseat of my car and drove down to my parents’ house.
On Thursday evening, after cramming the containers of leftover turkey and sweet potatoes into the fridge, we set out fresh forks and little dessert plates alongside the pies. Following tradition, we carved the pecan first and then sliced into mine. With its tempting appearance and tantalizing smell, I excitedly slid the first bite into my mouth… And completely doused the rest of my piece with whipped cream.
Way too much spice!
Although my family gamely finished it off, I worked on perfecting it the following week so I could present it to you. After a few tweaks, I converted this Crustless Pumpkin Pie into my favorite pumpkin dessert yet!
While most recipes include a can of condensed milk for thickening and sweetness, I opted for regular skim milk and plain nonfat Greek yogurt instead to lighten the pie and lower the fat. The yogurt adds a subtle tang and creaminess while boosting the protein content too.
I originally included 4 spices in my healthy pumpkin pie, but because of its practically inedible taste, I omitted the cloves in this final version. I still maintained my “holy trinity” of pumpkin spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger—but in much better proportions! A combined total of 1 tablespoon of spices was the perfect amount for my taste buds, but if yours are more sensitive, feel free to decrease each by a bit.
In honor of my mom’s new diet and my diabetic grandfather, I made this pumpkin pie gluten-free and sugar-free. Instead, I sweetened it with Splenda and Truvia. You may substitute these with regular granulated sugar, but the calories, carbohydrates, and sugar in the Nutrition Information will increase accordingly.
While testing this recipe, I discovered the secret trick to creating the perfect smooth pumpkin pie top: do NOT overbake it! In the custard filling, the egg proteins are tightly coiled like little balls of string. As you heat them in the oven, they unravel and tangle up with the neighboring protein strands. After putting the pie on a wire rack to cool, those proteins contract back into their tightly coiled balls and pull their ensnared neighbors along with them. If you bake the pie for too long and give the proteins too much heat, they become too twisted with their neighbors, which creates the cracked top as they pull apart to recoil.
For a sleek smooth top, bake the pie until the edges set and the center barely jiggles when nudged. However, because this healthy pie lacks a crust to hold the filling together, the slices’ bottoms will fall apart as you slide them out of the pan! If you don’t mind a small slit in the top, baking a few extra minutes firms up the filling, which helps the pieces hold together better. (And it won’t affect the taste!)
Warm cinnamony flavors fill each forkful of this sweet Crustless Pumpkin Pie, along with the comforting hint of nutmeg and ginger. Its velvety texture easily slides down your throat, especially when topped with a dollop of luscious whipped cream, and its festive orange color practically begs you to shave off another sliver. Go on and indulge—there are only 54 calories in each slice!
After just one bite, this pumpkin pie might turn into a Christmas tradition at your house too. ♥