Friday, November 15, 2013

Pumpkin Cream Pie (with a no-cook filling!)

There's a recipe for chilled, no-cook pumpkin pie that uses Cool Whip and pumpkin puree. I've been thinking about that recipe for a while. I like the idea, since it's a lot lighter than traditional pumpkin pie - which I think can be way too dense and filling, particularly after a big meal.

I love pumpkin cheesecake, but that's pretty darned rich. It can be a little fluffier and lighter on the tastebuds than traditional pumpkin pie, but it's still really really rich.

Then we have this cream pie.

Whipped cream is still cream - but it's got a lot of air. It adds a frothiness and fluffiness when it's mixed with pumpkin. But it also deflates pretty easily, which is probably why there's that Cool Whip recipe. Cool Whip doesn't deflate.

But ... although I'm fine with quite a number of prepared foods and snacky things, I just don't see the point in Cool Whip when it's so simple to whip cream - and it tastes so much better.

So, I was thinking about that recipe and thinking about how to stabilize whipped cream. Gelatin is one option, which is why I found some recipes for stabilized whipped cream that used marshmallows - it was the gelatin in the marshmallows that did the trick.

But I wanted something even easier. No cooking. Just mixing. Almost as easy as Cool Whip. So, how about instant pectin? I used it before to stabilize whipped cream that I used for a topping, but I wasn't sure what the result would be once I added pumpkin.

Turns out, it was just fine.

And then I decided to make a gingersnap and graham cracker crust for the no-bake filling. It's almost no-bake - just 10(ish) minutes in the oven to "set" the crust so it doesn't turn into crumbs when you cut it.

And then of course I made whipped cream for a garnish. Because that's how I roll.

This was the first run at this concept and I might tweak it a bit, but so far I'm pretty darned happy with the results. Feel free to taste and tweak the seasoning. This wasn't super-sweet, but that's how I like it.

This pie is best made a day ahead of serving, if you've got the patience to do that. The crust is a little bit crunchy at first, but after a day in the refrigerator, it loses the crunch but doesn't crumble when you cut it.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

For the crust:
24 gingersnaps
2 graham crackers
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar

For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
1 tablespoon instant pectin
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For the whipped cream topping:
2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of sugar

To make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put all the crust ingredients in a food processor and process until you have wet crumbs - there shouldn't be any bits of butter, and the crumbs should be a consistent size. You can, in theory, over-process this until you have cookie butter, so don't walk away from it for too long. Just process to crumbs.

Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan and press the crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan. At first, it will seem like a lot of crumbs, but it will compact a lot.

Bake the crust until it's just barely browned - about 10 minutes. Put the pan on a rack and let it cool completely.

To make the pie filling:

Put the whipped cream in a bowl and sprinkle the pectin on top. Add the vanilla extract and begin whipping. When the mixture starts to thicken, add the sugar and keep whipping until you have peaks. I did this by hand - it didn't take long - but you can use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer if you prefer.

Combine the pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves in a small bowl. Mix well, then add this in several additions to the whipped cream mixture until it's well blended.

Use this to fill your prepared pie shell - this will fill a regular 9-inch shell with leftovers, if you fill it evenly - or you can mound it, if you prefer. But the leftovers make a nice mousse. I haven't measured it in a deep-dish pan, put it should be enough to fill that.

To make the whipped cream for garnish:

Remember how I said that I don't mind whipping cream? Well, in this case, I used my nitrous cream whipper, because I wanted to be able to keep the whipped cream on hand and use it for several different things I had planned during the week. So I used the whipper.

If you don't happen to have a nitrous cream whipper, just whip by hand or with an electric mixer. This makes a lot of whipped cream - more than you'll need for the pie. But it's the holidays - I'm sure you'll find something to do with the extra.

Just combine all the ingredients, whisk to make sure it's all blended, and pour it into the cream whipper. Charge with nitrous according to manufacturer's directions, and dispense as needed.