This is another one of those times where I will describe how I have firmly hated such-and-such all my life and then go on to tell you how this new and improved such-and-such won my heart and changed my life forever.
In short, pumpkin pie - not my thing. Amendment: wasn't my thing.
It's true, I did not like pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie-flavored drinks, crackers, and candies, but the actual dessert itself always fell short in my mind. I think it was a texture issue. I always wanted it to be custard-like and the pumpkin just threw it off for me.
This year, I really wanted to develop a pumpkin pie that I genuinely loved. After all, I am a pumpkin freak so it seemed absurd that there was no pumpkin pie I could grow to love.
The idea floated across my mind one afternoon and I knew happiness and long-awaited pumpkin pie satisfaction were on the horizon.
I had a couple of factors to take into consideration. I knew I wanted this pie to be sliceable and to hold its shape like any well-behaved pie should, but I also wanted to keep it as light and airy as possible.
In order to achieve both, I stabilized this mousse with a very small amount of gelatin. Just enough to keep the mousse firm, without losing any of that...how do I describe it? Ah, the texture of baby clouds. Not just clouds, baby clouds. You got it?
Oh, and then I topped the whole darn thing with cinnamon and rum whipped cream and covered it in crushed hazelnut brittle and edible glitter.
COME TO ME, LOVER.
I know you are getting ready to tell me how this sounds like wayyy too much work.
While it certainly requires a bit more time than your standard pumpkin pie, the steps are many but simple, and the reward is a freaking pumpkin-flavored, brittle-covered, cloud of happiness resting in a graham cracker crust so...what was your problem again?
This is most definitely on my Thanksgiving menu and I really want it to be on yours, because I love you.
You know you want some.
PUMPKIN MOUSSE PIE
for the crust
(crust recipe by Ina Garten)
10 graham crackers
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place crackers in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse until you have only fine crumbs. Add butter and sugar and pulse several times - until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Press the graham cracker mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8-10 minutes; until the edges are golden brown. Allow the crust to cool while you prepare the filling.
for the mousse
2 teaspoons cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 egg whites
Combine water and gelatin in a small dish. Set aside.
Fill a 3-quart saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, separate four eggs, placing the yolks in a large, glass, mixing bowl and reserving two of the whites in a separate bowl. Add the granulated sugar to the egg yolks and place the bowl over the pot of boiling water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture constantly until it becomes thick, pale yellow in color, and has doubled in volume; about five minutes.
Add the solidified gelatin to the heated yolk mixture and continue to whisk until the gelatin has completely dissolved. The mixture will become very thick.
Whisk in the pumpkin puree and cook, whisking constantly, for an additional two minutes; until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the cream and egg whites.
Place heavy cream, spices, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.
In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Whisk half of the whipped cream into the cooled pumpkin mixture, then fold in the remaining cream. Fold in the egg whites in two separate additions.
Pour the mousse into the prepared pie crust. Cover the surface of the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours, until set.
for the hazelnut brittle
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup roasted, unsalted hazelnut
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Cook's Note: This recipe makes far more brittle than you will actually need for the pie, but I don't have to tell you what to do with the extra, now do I?
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and coat liberally with nonstick spray.
In a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and 3 tablespoons of water - whisk to combine. Place the mixture over medium heat and stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook until the thermometer reads 290 degrees, about 3-5 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in hazelnuts, butter, and kosher salt. This will cause the syrup to seize at first but it will melt down. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the syrup has reached 300 degrees and the hazelnuts have browned slightly, about 2-4 minutes. The caramel will be a golden brown. Remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda. As soon as the baking soda has been stirred into the caramel, pour the mixture out onto the greased baking sheet. Use a heat-proof spatula to spread out the brittle.
Once the brittle has cooled completely break it into pieces. Store the brittle at room temperature in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper. This will keep the brittle from sticking together. Brittle will store for up to a week, but honestly, there is no way it will be around for that long.
for the whipped cream
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
Combine heavy cream and confectioner's sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in cinnamon and rum extract.
Place about 1/2 of the brittle into a zip-top bag and use a heavy spoon or kitchen mallet to roughly crush the brittle.
Use a spatula to spread the whipped cream over top of the mousse. At this point you can cover the pie and refrigerate for up to two days. Sprinkle with crushed brittle just before serving. Enjoy!