Last year, I tried the McDonald’s Baked Pumpkin Pie and thought it was pretty good for what it was — namely, one of McDonald’s many pie varieties — although it had a lackluster crust and weird textured filling.
Well, I tried the fast food pumpkin pie again this year and all I have to say is that it appears McDonald’s is in cahoots with Paula Deen.
How else can one explain the flaky pastry crust adorned with warm cinnamon and buttery taste, and the warm, unctuous texture of the spicy yet rich filling that’s bursting with robust pumpkin flavor and a none-to-sweet finish that will make you swear off Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts for the remainder of your November?
A pumpkin junkie in my own right, I’ve had the autumnal rite of pumpkin pie flavored stuff in just about every conceivable form – and even some inconceivable ones. Pumpkin donuts. pumpkin pie yogurt. pumpkin muffins and ice cream and yes, even that standard, how-the-heck does it taste this artificially awesome pumpkin mousse that every Weight Watcher’s household has run-across. There have been some hits. There have been a lot of misses. But the McDonald’s Baked Pumpkin Pie is one of the few edible goodies that have been able to live up to any semblance of that traditionally rich and wholesome pumpkin pie your grandma bakes each Thanksgiving.
My local McDonald’s wasn’t quite inclined to recreate the Thanksgiving experience by serving me my pumpkin pie on a recliner in front of a picture-in-picture HDTV with both the Cowboys game and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade highlights on the screen, but my store did serve it to me piping hot and in a cute little orange box which made me feel like I was getting an early Christmas present, and not just one with a buttload of saturated fat in something the size of my phone.
Adorned with a cinnamon glaze and three tiny slits on top, the pies themselves won’t win any beauty contests. Nor will they intoxicate you with the kind of siren-like aroma that causes even the most grotesquely stuffed post-Thanksgiving dinner guest to make a beeline for the dessert table. Yet for what the pie lacks in visual sophistication or intoxicating aroma, it somehow makes up in balance of taste and remarkable authenticity.
I don’t know if they changed the recipe from last year but the crust is much better from what I remember and isn’t just an afterthought to contain the warm and delicious filling. It has a delicate crumb and an enjoyably flaky texture, but it’s the buttery, croissant-like taste and baked-in cinnamon flavor which make it an enjoyable and dare-I-say sophisticated foil to the filling.
The filling itself is tough to describe outside of the prerequisite “mmmmmmm,” but I’ll do my best to exploit my non auditory vocabulary ability. Texturally speaking, it’s a bit more viscous than solid packed pumpkin filling, with specks of fall spices breaking up the bright orange. Despite looking like it might have come from a can, it tastes developed and rich, as if it’s been baked with the addition of brown sugar and evaporated milk – two staples of many a pumpkin pie recipe. The sweetness seems remarkably restrained, a pleasant surprise which allows the spices and pumpkin to shine while still providing enough textural contrast with the flaky crust.
I just don’t get it, I really don’t. I’m not suppose to enjoy a McDonald’s pie this much. A hamburger? Possibly. Fries? Certainly. But a one dollar pie exemplifying all that is right and good about autumn foods? As dumbfounded as I am at this apparent coup aimed at the family Thanksgiving table, McDonald’s Baked Pumpkin Pie cannot be denied it’s due deliciousness, especially not when it’s fresh baked and piping hot.
Thank you, Ronald and company. Whether it was Paula Deen and her Botox enhanced grins or just an assembly line of conscripted grandmothers, you’ve managed to create an affordable slice of the Holidays that’s as delicious as it is simple.
(Nutrition Facts – 240 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 150 milligrams of sodium, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugars, and 3 grams of protein.)
Item: McDonald’s Baked Pumpkin Pie
Purchased Price: $1.00
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Flakey, buttery crust with warm cinnamon flavor. Filling has enjoyably viscous and warm consistency with classic warming spices and brown sugar sweetness. Not cloying. Comes in a cute box. Trans fat free. Tastes new and improved. Vitamin A!
Cons: Small, as in, three bites and your done small. Super source of saturated fat. Potential cultural ramifications of McDonald’s making a better pumpkin pie than my own grandmother. My grandmother reading this review and forcing me to sit at the kids table for Thanksgiving. Not available nationwide.