Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Pie's Alter Ego

This time of year means shorter days, crisper nights, yummy apples and pears, loads of squash and of course pumpkins.  The usual suspect that typically comes to mind when pumpkin is mentioned is of course pumpkin pie.  In fact I can't remember too many Thanksgiving dinners where some variation of pumpkin pie wasn't served.  Now of course there are many ways to cook and eat pumpkin, but pumpkin pie has to be the most famous here in the states, an iconic staple of our Thanksgiving holiday. 
So this past weekend I needed to come up with a dessert for my family's impending visit and I just so happened to be looking out at my back deck and noticed the pumpkins I had bought for something completely different that I was in no way going to have time to make.  I therefore wondered if maybe I could capitalize on my scheduling failure and come up with something centered around this lovely fruit.  I knew that I just didn't want to go the pie route, and I considered a pumpkin roll, but honestly how many times can you do one of those!  Then all of a sudden my mental block vanished and I was on a pumpkin dessert idea marathon and speaking of roll, I was on one a pumpkin dessert roll!  But anyway, disregarding that stupid joke, after some serious mad scribbling, and pumpkin dessert notes all over my living room (several ideas to be saved for a later pumpkin date) I decided to go with a mousse cake, paired with yummy homemade caramel, and even though I was a little apprehensive about how this would turn out, it was great, and a certain dear friend who serves as one of my many unfortunate product developers (a.k.a tasting victims) has been waiting very patiently for this recipe.  So Stacy, here ya go.....may the pumpkin force be with you.

Caramel Pumpkin Mousse Cake

3 cups graham cracker crumbs
10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 sugar pie pumpkin
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup half and half
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 package gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds and pulp.  Place the pumpkin cut side down in a shallow casserole dish.  Add the 1 1/2 cups water and bake the pumpkin until the flesh is very tender, about 35 minutes.  Remove the pumpkin from the oven and set aside.  In a food processor combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon.  With the processor running, slowly add the melted butter and process until the butter is evenly distributed and all the crumbs are moist.  Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the crust from the oven and cool on a rack.  While the crust is cooling begin making the caramel.  I a large heavy saucepan add the sugar and the water.  Heat the sugar and water, gently swirling the saucepan to evenly cook the sugar.  Heat the sugar until the syrup begins to turn an amber color.  Don't let the sugar get too dark, or the caramel will taste bitter.  Once the sugar is an amber color add the heavy cream and vanilla and stir until completely incorporated.  Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring until each tablespoon is completely melted and the caramel has a smooth consistency.  When the caramel is done set aside while you prepare the filling.  To prepare the rest of the filling, scoop out the cooked pumpkin into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the half and half, sugar, vanilla, and spices.  Blend until combined and transfer into a large glass bowl or double boiler.  Place the bowl over a saucepan that has about 2 inches of boiling water in it and heat the pumpkin mixture until hot, stirring frequently.  In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks.  Once the pumpkin mixture is hot add a small amount to the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper the yolks before you add them to the pumpkin mixture.  Add the tempered egg yolks to the pumpkin mixture and stir until thickened, about 10 minutes.  In another small bowl dissolve the gelatin in the 1/4 cup cold water and add to the hot pumpkin mixture. 

Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and allow to cool.  Once the pumpkin mixture is cooled, beat the whip cream until soft peaks form, add the sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold the whip cream into the pumpkin mixture.   Spread three quarters of the caramel over the bottom of the crust, then add the pumpkin mousse.  Chill the mousse cake until firm, at least 2 hours.  Once firm remove the cake from the springform and drizzle the remaining caramel over the top of the cake and serve.


  1. Why aren't you a full time chef! Your recipes are amazing. I want a signed copy of the cookbook when it comes out!

  2. Thanks Sarah, you're too nice! Thanks again for all your support!

  3. I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this pumpkin widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about pumpkin, Thanks!

  4. Thanks Alisa for reading! Of course I will display the widget. There will be more pumpkin posts to come!

  5. Nice mousse cake, love the thought of the pumpkin and caramel, really looks good.

  6. Stair Climbing,
    Thanks so much for reading and the feedback! I definately think that after making this that caramel and pumpkin were made for each other.

  7. Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it - great recipes YUM YUM.
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  8. Hey Jennifer- If you were to want to use canned pumpkin for this, how much do you think you would need? Stacy

  9. Jennifer- As you can see, I'm preparing to make this recipe. I'm no whiz in the kitchen, so I'm reading & re-reading!! Can you tell me how many egg yolks you used? I see it in the directions, but don't see any eggs listed in the ingredient list.

    Thanks so much! Stacy

  10. Hey Stacy,
    I can't believe I left the eggs off! There's 3 eggs so hopefully I caught you before you started. Also, one can of pumpkin should be fine to replace the fresh pumpkin. I will definately go back and add the eggs! Good luck!