Usually I make the recipe exactly as written the first time around but I decided to make these as little pie tartlets so that Rich could take them to choir rehearsal. I used Dorie's fabulous Good for Almost Anything Pie Dough recipe (p442 in Baking), chilled the dough and filled 24 little muffin cups. I partially baked these (16 minutes at 400 degrees).
Then I started on the caramel for the filling. I've made caramel in the past and it is always tricky. You want it dark for maximum flavor, but you definitely don't want it burnt. I started out by heating the sugar until it melted and while this was happening, I got the tiniest whiff of burn-y smell. But I added the cream, then the rum and the butter and cooked till smooth.
But as it cooled, I was increasingly suspicious of the burniness and so I just did it again. I now had two batches of caramel which looked alike. However, the first batch did taste as if it had burned and the second batch was absolutely scrumptious.
With the caramel made, it was simple to mix up the rest of the filling, stir in the lovely caramel, and fill the little pie shells. I put a little streusel on a few of them, just to see if that dressed them up a bit. I baked them for 25 minutes at 350 degrees until a knife came out clean. (I had left over filling which I ended up stirring into a loaf bread batter--yummy!)
I must say that the filling was terrific! And though when faced with a choice I still might reach for apple pie instead of pumpkin, I'm sure I'll be baking this recipe again. Thanks to Janell of Mortensen Family Memoirs for getting me to try pumpkin pie!