Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Happy Pie Day!

What? You didn't realize today was pie day? Or did you not know that a pie day even existed? If you're of the latter party, no worries, I was in that boat, too. While listening to public radio this morning before class, I heard the amazing announcement. Silly me thought there were no major holidays between New Years and Valentine's Day. Why do they not sell cards for such an occasion? At least they sell PIE!

If you're looking for a fun change to a predictable dessert, you simply must try this recipe. This pumpkin pie variation tastes like a classic but has a surprising and pleasing twist. The secret is in the eggs. They are carefully beaten to create a light-as-air texture. Although it is perfect throughout the fall season, it also fits quite nicely on any chilly day. (And heaven knows we have plenty of those around here!)

The recipe originally came from a Martha Stewart Living magazine a couple years ago. It can be found here on her website.

Start with a gingersnap crust.

32 gingersnaps, coarsely broken
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

If you have a food processor: Process gingersnaps, sugar, and salt until finely ground. Add butter, and process until combined.

If you don't have a food processor: (This is the way I make it.) Put the gingersnaps in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin or wine bottle, roll over the cookies until they are finely ground. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and salt. Pour the butter over the crumb mixture and stir with a fork until evenly coated.

Press the crust into the bottom and sides of a pie pan. Bake until darkened and firm, 11-13 minutes. Let cool.

And now for the pumpkin filling.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can)
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl and set aside for about 5 minutes.

Combine the pumpkin, egg yolks, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, milk, salt, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring until mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Let the pumpkin mixture cool completely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a bowl using a hand-held electric mixer...this is much more time-consuming and can be challenging), beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. (Soft peaks means that you can still see a mark when the beater is taken out of the eggs but it soon disappears.) Gradually (MUST be done very slowly or the eggs won't turn out) add remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. (Stiff peaks remain well after the beater is lifted out of the egg mixture.)

Whisk 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into cooled pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites.

Spoon into pie shell and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

If you don't plan to serve the pie the day it is made, I recommend refrigerating the filling in a bowl rather than in the crust. The crust tends to get mushy otherwise. Just before serving, spoon the chilled filling into the crust and smooth the top.

Let me know if you have any questions. This really is a treat!


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