top of page

Mexican S'mores Pumpkin Pie

From Bitterness To Thankfulness in a Pumpkin Pie.

On their own, the majority of the ingredients in a pumpkin pie taste terrible. Pumpkin is earthy, bitter, and bland. Cinnamon is fiery and irritates the throat. Nutmeg tastes like old soap. Clove and allspice can be overwhelmingly pungent. Fresh ginger is abrasive and assaults the senses. And natural vanilla is surprisingly bitter.

Yet, when these diverse and astringent ingredients are blended vigorously, then put through a trial of intense heat in the oven, they yield an iconic and delicious dish.

In many ways, this transformation of bitter to sweet captures the essence of the Thanksgiving story.

Variations of a Thanksgiving holiday have been celebrated around the world for centuries, often as harvest festivals commemorating a fruitful yield, or as national celebrations of peace following a time of war or intense difficulty. The American Thanksgiving holiday is perhaps the most prominent example, and it includes both of these elements.

The feasts and harvest celebrations held by early European settlers to the North American continent are widely regarded as the “first Thanksgiving.” Yet these commemorations of God’s abundance were often set against the backdrop of famine, disease, and other hardships. And when Thanksgiving Day was established as a national, federal holiday, by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, recognition of God’s goodness and providence was held in tension by the pain of the ongoing Civil War. Even the establishment of the holiday itself is a story of blessing through endurance. Author and activist Sarah Josepha Hale petitioned several presidents and advocated for a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 20 years before Lincoln finally assented. Hale hoped the holiday would cultivate unity amid the nation’s deep divisions.

We have a deeper sense of gratitude after trial and hardship. Hardship often forges character, inspiration, and hope, and can even foster harmony between those who are bitterly divided or remarkably different.

This delicious twist on a classic pumpkin pie adds the sweetness of marshmallow, caramel, and dark chocolate to the mix. The recipe’s length may intimidate you, but it’s all quite easy to make. However, if you’d like to “chef it down” and go with the traditional pumpkin pie, the conversation guide will still pair easily.

Perhaps the mix of bitter and sweet represents the diverse array of guests at your Thanksgiving table. The discussion guide below will invite you to reflect on the bitter trials that deepen your gratitude and perhaps even kindle unity where there is now division.

Recipe: Mexican S'mores Pumpkin Pie


9”-12” tart pan with removable bottom.

2 Medium mixing bowls

2 Medium sized pots

3 cookie sheets

Cake pan

Electric stand mixer with whisk attachment

Frying pan

Wire rack

Airtight storage container

Several small bowls

Candy thermometer

Culinary Torch


Pie Crust

2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs

3 oz (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 3/4 cup (400 ml) pumpkin pie filling. (There are two kinds of pie filling on the market. This recipe is for unsweetened pure pumpkin pie filling. If you have the sweet pre-spiced pumpkin pie filling, all you need to add from the rest of the list is eggs and milk. Be sure to check the label on your pie filling!)

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice (OR 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Spiced Pepitas Brittle

1 1/2 cups shelled, raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 tsp butter or olive oil

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

2 Tbsp light corn syrup

Home Made Marshmallows

28 grams or 4 envelopes of powdered gelatine

1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of water in separate measuring cups.

3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups light corn syrup

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste or vanilla extract

1 pinch of salt

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup cornstarch

Tempered Dark Chocolate Shards

150 g dark chocolate, chopped

[Header: Recipe for the Dish]