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Pumpkin pie, with its thick orange custard, fragrant spices and flaky crust, has been a powerhouse on the holiday menu ever since the Pilgrims gathered for the first Thanksgiving. But as ubiquitous as pumpkin pie has become over the past several hundred Thanksgivings we've celebrated in America, traditional pumpkin pie — that recipe found on the back of the Libby's pumpkin can and one many of us can make from memory — has become a rather uninspired offering.

In the fall, pumpkin appears everywhere — from soup to ice cream, lattes to yogurt to cereal. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, we grow weary of everything pumpkin, and the thought of making a pumpkin pie can be rather deflating.

While tradition demands pumpkin have some kind of presence on the buffet, that doesn't mean it has to be in its traditional form.

For instance, give it a whirl and a swirl with some cream cheese. Think a cheesecake-infused pumpkin pie.

Make some pumpkin pasties — er, hand pies — and let your guests eat with their fingers. It's totally acceptable.

Pumpkin Turtle Pie is oh so easy, even a kid can do it — and should. Let them have some fun in the kitchen. The fact that Pumpkin Turtle Pie is no-bake frees up oven space for other delectable Thanksgiving dishes.

Pumpkin Dump Pie is also easy and delicious. Is it a pie? Is it a cake? Doesn't matter; just dump it all in together.

Pumpkin flan is another dessert that will impress your guests. It will take some time, so it's best made a day or two ahead, but one taste and you'll never go back to plain old pumpkin pie again.

Pumpkin Swirl Pie

What you need:

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup evaporated milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

What you do:

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat cream cheese in small mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/4 cup corn syrup and vanilla extract; beat until smooth.

2. Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, remaining corn syrup, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt, if using, in medium bowl. Pour into pie shell.

3. Drop cream cheese mixture by rounded tablespoon onto pumpkin filling. Swirl mixture with spoon, pulling pumpkin mixture up to surface.

4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkle with a little pumpkin pie spice, if desired.



Pumpkin Pie Pasties

Makes 12-14 pasties

What you need:

For the pasties:

1 package refrigerated pie crusts

1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or from the pumpkin)

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 egg white, beaten

For the glaze:

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon maple flavoring

2-3 tablespoons whole milk

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

What you do:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove pie crusts from package and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the filling.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, brown sugar, allspice and cinnamon. Fold in pecans. Set aside.

3. Unroll pie crusts and cut 6 circles from each crust using a 4-inch biscuit cutter. Reroll the scraps to get more circles.

4. Drop 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie filling into center of each dough circle. Fold in half and pinch edges completely, then fold pinched edges over and press, using the tines of the fork, to seal. Poke surface of pasties with a fork once to prevent bursting.

5. Beat egg white in a small bowl until frothy, and brush over the top of each pastie. Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for 13-15 minutes or until browned.

6. While pasties are baking, prepare glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar, maple flavoring and milk until smooth.

7. Remove cooked pasties from baking sheet and drop into glaze while still warm, coating each pastie completely. Return to parchment paper and sprinkle immediately with chopped pecans. Allow to set, about 10 minutes.



Pumpkin Turtle Pie

What you need:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping, divided

1 graham cracker crumb crust (store-bought or homemade)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, divided

2 (3.4-ounce) packages vanilla instant pudding

1 cup cold milk

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 (8-ounce) tub whipped topping, thawed, divided

What you do:

1. Pour 1/4 cup caramel topping onto bottom of pie crust. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts.

2. Beat together pudding, milk, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl with whisk until blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups whipped topping, then spoon into crust. Refrigerate 1 hour.

4. Top with remaining whipped topping, caramel topping and nuts just before serving.



Pumpkin Dump Pie

What you need:

30 ounces pumpkin puree

12 ounces evaporated milk

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided

1 box yellow cake mix (your favorite brand)

1 cup salted butter

1 cup chopped pecans

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

What you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. Mix together pumpkin puree, milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and pour into the baking dish.

3. Evenly sprinkle dry cake mix over top of the pumpkin puree mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice over cake mix.

4. Melt butter and pour over the cake mix. Spread nuts evenly over top of the cake, then bake for 1 hour. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream and a dash of pumpkin spice.



Ina Garten's Pumpkin Flan

What you need:

For the caramel:

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

For the pumpkin flan:

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese

4 extra-large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure maple extract, such as Boyajian

2 teaspoons grated orange zest (2 oranges)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

What you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make the caramel: Combine sugar, maple syrup and 1/3 cup water in a small, deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, swirling the pan (don't stir!) to dissolve the sugar. Cook at a low boil without stirring for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture turns a golden brown and registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Off the heat, swirl in the fleur de sel, then immediately pour into an 8-by-2-inch round cake pan (not a springform). Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place condensed milk, evaporated milk, canned pumpkin and mascarpone in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat on medium-low speed until smooth. Whisk in eggs, vanilla, maple extract, orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. Gently pour the pumpkin mixture into the pan with the caramel so they don't combine. Place pan in a roasting pan large enough to hold the cake pan flat, and fill the roasting pan with enough of the hottest tap water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan.

4. Bake in the center of the oven for 70-75 minutes, until the custard is just set. It will be firm but still jiggle slightly in the middle; a knife inserted into the center of the flan will come out clean. Remove the flan from the water bath, place on a cooling rack, and cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (Don't tilt the pan or the caramel will run out.)

5. Run a small knife around the edge of the flan. Turn a flat serving plate with a slight lip over the cake pan and flip them, turning the flan out onto the plate. The caramel should run out over the flan. Cut into wedges and serve with the caramel spooned over each slice.